Bernie Ecclestone says Lewis Hamilton originally wanted 2013 Red Bull move
F1 chief also suggests Lewis "rolled his eyes" when Merc first floated
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 24/03/13 11:58am
Speaking in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, F1's commercial impresario shed light on details of what are reported to have been 'advanced discussions' between Hamilton and Red Bull at last July's British GP, two months before the driver agreed a three-year deal with Mercedes.
However, any move to pair the 2008 World Champion with reigning triple title winner Vettel failed to materialise due to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, who gave incumbent Mark Webber first refusal on the 2013 drive - which the Australian ultimately took despite having held talks with Ferrari.
"Sebastian wouldn't have cared if Lewis had signed for the team," Ecclestone told the newspaper.
"Dietrich is a very honest, straightforward guy and told Mark the door was open for him to stay. That was good of him. Had Mark gone, Dietrich would have signed Lewis."
If the timeframe of Hamilton's talks with Red Bull are correct, then they took place just days before Webber ultimately agreed a one-year contract extension at Milton Keynes on the back of winning the Silverstone event.
Ecclestone's revelation is at odds, however, with comments made by Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner last week when the Englishman suggested he didn't think a blockbuster partnership of Vettel and Hamilton would ever be the right thing for the team.
"Lewis is a fantastically quick driver and he has expressed interest in driving for the team in the past. But it wouldn't have been right for the team," Horner told The Daily Telegraph.
"I have great admiration for the talent he has but I don't think Lewis and Sebastian would be the right combination."
With Webber's extended deal ultimately making academic any ambitions Hamilton harboured of a switch to the sport's recent dominant force, the 28-year-old was forced to look elsewhere if he wanted to leave his long-time McLaren home.
In September Hamilton duly agreed a three-year deal with Mercedes, and now six months on, Ecclestone says he first floated the idea to the British star.
"Why not talk to Mercedes, Lewis?," Ecclestone claimed he suggested.
"Lewis rolled his eyes ... but I told him that he had nothing to lose as he wanted out of McLaren."