Horner: Lewis Hamilton was ‘desperate’ to race for Red Bull

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Red Bull Racing Formula 1 chief Christian Horner has claimed that three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was “desperate” to join the team prior to his move to Mercedes.

Hamilton ended a long-running relationship with McLaren in 2012 to join Mercedes for the 2013 season at a time when Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull were dominating in the series.

After a quiet first season with Mercedes that yielded just one race win, Hamilton has since established himself among F1’s all-time greats by winning back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.

The Briton has hit new heights off-track as well, securing a staggering new Mercedes contract in 2015 and enjoying a celebrity status known by few in F1’s history.

However, it all could have been very different had Hamilton earned his desired move to Red Bull, as revealed by Horner to F1 Racing magazine.

“He wanted to drive for Red Bull,” Horner said. “He was desperate to drive for the team.

“In 2012, he wanted to come and drive for us, but there was no way we could accommodate him while Sebastian was with us.

“Then before he signed for Mercedes he was very keen to drive for Red Bull in 2013.”

Fascinatingly, Horner also revealed that he convinced Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda to sign Hamilton, believing that the Briton would be less of a threat to Red Bull if he wasn’t racing for McLaren.

“The McLaren had been very competitive in 2011 and 2012 and I thought it would probably be better for us for him to be at Mercedes than McLaren,” Horner said.

“In the event of us not being able to sign him I encouraged Niki Lauda to sign him to weaken McLaren, not envisaging that Mercedes would become the absolute powerhouse they are today.”

McLaren has not won a single race since Hamilton left and has scored just two podium finishes, and spent much of 2015 toiling at the back of the grid en route to ninth place in the constructors’ championship.


So what if Lewis Hamilton had joined Red Bull and not Mercedes for the 2013 season? (Assumptions follow…).

Firstly, it’s very plausible that Nico Rosberg could be a two-time world champion by now – more titles than Hamilton would have, assuming the Briton lost to Vettel at Red Bull in 2013.

Secondly, it would most probably have set the driver market into a very different motion. Mark Webber was approached by Ferrari to replace Felipe Massa for 2013, so that would likely have gone ahead if the Australian opted to give it another year before heading to WEC.

Webber would not have likely lasted too much longer at Ferrari, though, so a space may have been opened up for Kimi Raikkonen still. Similarly, Fernando Alonso would have bailed eventually, allowing Vettel to still make his dream move to Ferrari.

Hamilton joining Red Bull would have most probably delayed Daniel Ricciardo’s promotion to Red Bull until Vettel left. Would we rave about the affable Aussie so much had he debuted in the 2015 RB11?

Perhaps the biggest question unanswered is who would have joined Mercedes in Hamilton’s place. Michael Schumacher was keen to race in 2013, but would he have stayed on for another year or two beyond that to fight for an eighth world title?

Maybe a more likely answer comes in the form of Fernando Alonso. Tired with Ferrari, perhaps he would have jumped ship to Mercedes for 2014 and enjoyed racing with the best car on the grid for the first time since 2007.

The most interesting aspect of this is how a Hamilton/Vettel partnership would have worked. The two greatest drivers of the post-Schumacher era together in the same roost – what a sight that would have been…

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

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It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway