Christian Horner strongly considered leaving Red Bull for Ferrari late in 2022, according to the Austrian side’s advisor Helmut Marko.
Horner has been an ever-present figure at the helm of the Milton-Keynes-based side since Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz purchased the floundering Minardi team in time for the 2005 season.
Since his appointment Red Bull has won six Drivers’ Championships along with five Constructors’ Championships and appear poised to retain both titles this year, having won all seven races to take place in 2023.
However, history might’ve looked slightly different if Ferrari – without a Formula 1 title since 2008 – had been successful in courting both Horner and Red Bull Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey.
F1’s most successful ever engineer confirmed in a recent interview with Sky Sports Italy that he has received multiple offers from the prized Italian marque in the past.
“I was very tempted to go there [Ferrari] in the past, it’s a legendary brand,” Newey explained. “They contacted me in 1993, I think, and then in 1997, when I went from Williams to McLaren.
“And that was a very difficult choice. At the time, my children were very young and I didn’t want them to change schools.
“If I had gone to Ferrari I would have had to move to Italy and it would have been complicated. This has had an impact.”
Newey stopped short of mentioning the third, and biggest, attempt Ferrari made for his talents – a huge ploy in 2014 that comprised a “ridiculously large” financial offer.
While Newey has been open on Ferrari’s pursuit of his signature, Marko has since expanded on the details further, asserting that Red Bull previously had to intervene at the last moment to stop the technical guru trading Milton-Keynes for Maranello.
“[Luca di] Montezemelo was already cheering in the paddock and wanted to announce the deal,” Marko disclosed to Swiss newspaper Blick.
“But during the night we were able to change Newey’s mind.”
Now, Marko has also revealed that the same process occurred when Ferrari became interested in hiring Horner at the end of last year to replace the outgoing Mattia Binotto.
“It took me another whole night to convince Horner to stay at Red Bull,” the 80-year-old added. “And it cost us millions more.”
But Horner stayed put and has since stated that he can’t foresee himself ending up leading another team in F1 beyond Red Bull.
Meanwhile, Ferrari opted to entrust ex-Renault and Alfa Romeo chief Frederic Vasseur to try and build on its return to winning ways last year.
However, while Red Bull has continued its domination from the second half of last year to blitz the opening stages of the latest campaign, Ferrari has fallen further behind.
The Scuderia have only scored a single podium across the first seven races and sit fourth in the Constructors’ standings – already a massive 177 points behind Red Bull at the top.