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Former Mercedes boss Norbert Haug has revealed that he held negotiations with Sebastian Vettel about potentially partnering Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2008. Vettel had just completed his rookie year Toro Rosso and was attracting interest from many manufacturers.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso left McLaren when his contract came to an end following the 2007 campaign.
Mercedes supplied engines to McLaren so Haug got involved and held talks with the young German driver.
They instead opted to go with Heikki Kovalainen as Vettel stayed with Toro Rosso.
But had Vettel opted to join McLaren he may have stopped Hamilton from winning his first world title.
“I had negotiated with Sebastian during his time with Toro Rosso,” Haug told F1-Insider.com.
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“Who knows how the history of Formula 1 would have developed if we had reached an agreement back then?
“But, in the top league of Formula 1, everyone negotiates with everyone at some point and those who don’t admit it simply keep it to themselves. But it’s still true!”
Vettel’s time did come as he won four consecutive Drivers’ Championships from 2009 to 2013.
Hamilton has since gone on to surpass Vettel and he has equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles.
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The 36-year-old will look to pull away into a league of his own by lifting the trophy again this year.
Behind Mercedes, Red Bull could have a sterner challenge for second place.
That is because Mercedes are once again providing McLaren with their engines, six years after they were ditched for Honda.
“That pleases me very much,” Haug said of the rekindled partnership.
“We had a great and mostly successful 15 years together and the McLaren-Mercedes Silver Arrows with Hakkinen, [David] Coulthard and later Hamilton were a quality concept in Formula 1 during this time.
“I would be very happy if it would be the same again. With Andreas Seidl, there is a racer at the helm who knows where the top step of the podium is and how to get there – since things have been on the up again.”
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