How Honda F1 missed a two-week window to signal Sebastian Vettel

In line with Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s F1 group principal and the previous Honda F1 director of technique and enterprise planning, there was a two-week window the place Vettel was out there to signal again in his junior days.

Szafnauer has all the time loved a very good relationship with Vettel, and performed a key position within the German driver signing for Aston Martin final 12 months after holding talks by means of 2020. Vettel introduced on the finish of final month he can be retiring from F1 on the finish of the season.

Requested for his greatest story about Vettel in Hungary, Szafnauer revealed there was a time when he had hoped to signal the then-Purple Bull and BMW-linked teen for Honda, just for sporting director Gil de Ferran to pull his heels over a transfer.

“Seb got here as much as me and he stated, ‘I’ve bought a two-week window,’ and he was a younger, he was I do not know, 19 years outdated or no matter,” Szafnauer recalled.

“‘I’ve bought a two week window the place I am out of contract at each Purple Bull and I believe BMW. So, are you curious about signing me?’

“He was unknown amount again then. However I am like, ‘yeah, this child’s good!’ Two-week window!

“So I went to Gil, and I stated, ‘we have now two-week window to signal Seb Vettel.’ He stated, ‘don’t be concerned, I bought my eye on him.’ ‘What do you imply, you bought your eye on him? We bought two weeks!’

“Anyway, we did not signal him.”

Jenson Button, Honda RA107

Jenson Button, Honda RA107

Picture by: Motorsport Photos

Vettel would go on to make his F1 race debut for BMW Sauber on the 2007 United States Grand Prix, deputising for the injured Robert Kubica, earlier than getting a full-time race seat with Toro Rosso, Purple Bull’s junior group, later that 12 months.

It paved the way in which for Vettel to turn into F1’s youngest race winner at Monza in 2008 for Toro Rosso earlier than securing his maiden world title in 2010 with Purple Bull.

Szafnauer would go away Honda halfway by means of 2008, which proved to be the Japanese producer’s final season with a works squad. It pulled the plug on the finish of the 12 months, leading to Brawn GP choosing up the items to win each titles in 2009 earlier than finally evolving into Mercedes’ works outfit from 2010.

Szafnauer and Vettel held talks by means of 2020 a couple of swap to what was then referred to as Racing Level, together with a famed carry in a automobile to a petroleum station on the British Grand Prix.

Szafnauer revealed Vettel had introduced do-it-yourself bread when he got here to stick with him within the UK, chatting with the four-time world champion’s character.

“Throughout Covid, he felt extra comfy not going to a lodge the place he thought he may decide up Covid than spending time at our home every time he got here to England, as a result of everyone examined daily, so everybody knew, you already know, we’re Covid free,” Szafnauer stated.

“And every time he would come over, he would deliver with him do-it-yourself bread, that he made in Switzerland, on this little satchel that he had he introduced it with him. And I bear in mind the primary time, the youngsters have been all wanting. However they completely beloved Seb’s do-it-yourself bread.

“Each time he got here, he needed to deliver his do-it-yourself bread. Sensible! I imply, who else does that?”

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