Jenson Button considered switching to Toro Rosso at the end of 2008, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has revealed.
Ultimately, after Honda announced its shock departure from the sport, Ross Brawn led a management buy-out of the Brackley based team, and Button went onto become 2009 world champion.
But before the Brawn rescue deal materialised, Button’s management was scrambling for a seat.
“Last minute he got a deal but I remember his management were asking us whether even Toro Rosso had a drive,” Horner is quoted by the Daily Mail.
Horner made the comments whilst admitting Button, 33, has impressed him “enormously” since becoming champion and then switching to McLaren.
“The team went from Lewis (Hamilton)’s team pretty much exclusively … maybe the relationship (between McLaren and Hamilton) had run its course.
“What factor Jenson played in that, I have no idea.”
Forget the ‘big three’ — Christian Horner has admitted teams other than Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari made the “strongest impression” on him last week at Jerez.
“Lotus and Sauber left the strongest impression,” the Red Bull chief said, according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “All the others are still difficult to assess,” added Horner.
The German magazine’s correspondent Michael Schmidt said the new grey Sauber had Nico Hulkenberg “smiling” all week as the opening test at Jerez unfolded.
“Eyewitnesses say the C32 is the best car in the field in fast corners,” said Schmidt.
Swiss newspaper Blick’s veteran correspondent Roger Benoit, meanwhile, quoted Hulkenberg as confiding to his Sauber colleagues: “Guys, this car goes like the devil.”
As for Lotus, both Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen each tasted the top of the timesheets during the four-day test.
“We are quite surprised,” admitted the always-grinning Frenchman Grosjean, according to RMC. “I think everybody saw my smile.”
Christian Horner thinks ‘vanity panels’ are here to stay.
This year, the FIA has allowed designers to cover the unseemly ‘step’ in the noses – which were created by an anomaly in the 2012 rules – with a non-structural laminate. Some teams bought into the idea of a smooth nose wholeheartedly for 2013, including McLaren and Ferrari.
But others, notably Red Bull, Mercedes and Sauber, adopted a halfway-house solution, while the likes of Lotus and Caterham simply left the full ‘step’ on.
So, with the various solutions now out of the bag, there is speculation in the Jerez test paddock this week that some teams could change their minds in the next few weeks.
Referring to the so-called ‘vanity panel’, Red Bull’s Horner said: “Some teams have opted for it, some have opted for another solution. I think that will remain the same throughout the year,” he told British broadcaster Sky.
Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko has refuted rumours that team boss Christian Horner could be headed to Ferrari in the near future.
Horner has recently visited Maranello and this has prompted rumours that he could be defecting to the scarlet-clad F1 team. This is despite the fact that several noted F1 figures were also present – including Bernie Ecclestone, Martin Whitmarsh and Niki Lauda – to discuss the Concorde Agreement with Luca di Montezemolo.
Marko told Sport Bild, “How could Christian be negotiating in Maranello if we’ve just extended his contract until 2017?”
Christian Horner was not at Maranello recently to discuss his or Adrian Newey’s possible switch to Ferrari.
When the Red Bull team boss was spotted at Ferrari’s fabled headquarters, it fired into action the speculative minds of the Italian and – in turn – the international press.
Actually, according to German correspondent Michael Schmidt, also at Maranello for the very same meeting were Bernie Ecclestone, Martin Whitmarsh and Niki Lauda.
They were sitting with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, to discuss the incomplete 2013 Concorde Agreement.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, the only document agreed so far is a ‘financial agreement’, with teams sharing 60 per cent of the sport’s revenue and top teams like Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes receiving an even bigger slice.
But the governing FIA, pushing reportedly for a $40 million slice, is yet to sign, meaning that the processes for agreeing and enforcing rules are currently up in the air.
A bone of contention is the issue of cost control, with the smaller teams pressing for a ‘budget cap’, and the bigger teams obviously not wanting to sign up to that.
“As long as there is no consensus,” wrote Schmidt, “there is a legal vacuum.”
According to Red Bull’s Christian Horner, Felipe Massa is lucky to have kept his seat at Ferrari.
Asked if he would have inked a new deal with Brazilian Massa in 2013, Horner admitted: “No, I don’t think I would have. Unfortunately, it’s a tough business, and results-based,” he told the book The Official Formula 1 Season Review 2012.
“You’ve got to look at what the guy in the other car (Fernando Alonso) – which we must assume is equal equipment – is achieving.”
Horner said it is obvious that Ferrari did consider axing Massa, who made his debut for the fabled Maranello based team alongside Michael Schumacher in 2006.
“They obviously had a look at other drivers – at least one of ours! – so they were obviously concerned about his form, but their options seemed to become limited,” he said.
Horner said Sergio Perez, who was eventually signed by McLaren for 2013 and beyond, initially seemed “a shoe-in” for Massa’s seat.
“Then Felipe obviously picked his form up in the last third of the year,” he added.
“They were obviously deliberating – the messages coming out of Maranello confirmed that – and probably when the music stopped they realised that the option they had was best for them.”
During Ferrari’s recent Maranello Christmas party, team president Luca di Montezemolo joked about Massa’s mid-season return to form in 2013.
“I don’t know where you went in the first part of the year,” he smiled to Massa, “but I am very pleased you came back.”
Team boss Christian Horner has admitted car designer Adrian Newey is “a little late” with next year’s Red Bull.
The Briton made the admission on the Red Bull-sponsored Austrian television channel Servus TV. Pre-season testing for the 2013 season will begin in Spain in early February.
The fact the RB9 is running behind schedule is undoubtedly due to the fact that, while many other teams turned their attention to next year during the 2012 season, Red Bull continued to develop its title-winning RB8 right up until the recent Interlagos finale.
“2012 was the hardest season I’ve ever been involved in,” Newey is quoted as saying. “In 2010 we had a fast car, maybe not totally reliable, but very good,” he said.
“Last year the car was good and reliable. This year we sometimes had a very good car and sometimes had a reliable car, and we didn’t always understand it, which initially was frustrating.
“The biggest change was the exhaust system which we had developed for two years and suddenly we had to start from scratch,” added Newey.