In the last few days there have been many rumors regarding a possible, albeit somewhat unlikely, Charles Leclerc – Lewis Hamilton swap next season or in 2024, with such speculation being generated by the difficult moment that both teams are going through in the start of the 2023 Formula 1 championship, but which could have some truth behind it.
After all, in 2014 a similar move was close to being finalized. Almost one decade ago, the two teams were very close to a sensational exchange, which was eventually blocked by Ferrari. Fernando Alonso revealed the story in an interview for Radio Barcelona a few years ago.
During the live broadcast, the commentator asked Fernando Alonso “to be honest” and to recall about the time he had the opportunity to go to Mercedes, and in particular an episode in 2014, when he was racing for Scuderia Ferrari and Toto Wolff, who was already team principal of Mercedes, proposed to Ferrari an exchange between him and Lewis Hamilton. Fernando’s answer was very clear:
“Yes. I think it was a moment in the championship in which the circumstances were there for such a plan to be put in motion and the intent was good in some way. But Ferrari didn’t want it at that moment.” – the Spaniard pointed out.
Fernando Alonso then revealed further details about that negotiation, which later led him to leave the Maranello team at the end of the 2014 Formula One championship:
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“Ferrari didn’t want that, they were in the middle of negotiating to try to renew with me, and extend the contract until 2019. That was the offer I had on the table, but in the end I wasn’t convinced and I went to the new McLaren Honda project with enthusiasm because I thought the cycle with Ferrari was over.” – Fernando Alonso admitted.
The Maranello team eventually chose Sebastian Vettel to replace Fernando Alonso in 2015, but we now know that Ferrari was close to signing Lewis Hamilton who began his cycle of victories with Mercedes precisely in 2014.
Toto Wolff then wanted to share his thoughts on these statements, describing his approach as a simple “interest” that was never further explored.