Stranger things have happened in F1 than Fernando Alonso moving to Red Bull for 2014. Max Mosley sold the commercial rights of the sport for 110 years to Bernie Ecclestone for $300m, (that's less than $3m a year), we had Flavio Briatore faking an accident to get a win for his team, and Lewis Hamilton left McLaren to join Mercedes.
The much-reported talks between Fernando Alonso's manager and Red Bull at the Hungarian Grand Prix were surprising not because they represented a potential breach of faith with Ferrari. Ever since Alonso's spell at McLaren it's been quite clear that the team is ultimately there to serve Fernando not the other way round. And that's not a critical view. He doesn't become the best driver in the world by having genes that are caring and sharing - he is as good as he is by looking out for No.1.
No, what was surprising was that there was even a possibility that Fernando could move, everyone thought he was locked into Ferrari till the end of 2016. We previously had the mood music from Fernando that he would like to end his career at the Scuderia etc etc.
When Ferrari removed Kimi Raikkonen from their line-up a year early to make way for Fernando, it's unlikely that the Spaniard had an easy get-out. He was so glad to be leaving the fading Renault team and keen to be part of the outfit that had been World Champions in 2007 and almost clinched it in 2008. The performance related get-out clauses must have been part of the renegotiated contract that takes him to 2016, and forged out of the struggles he had in 2010 and 2011.
Christian Horner was certainly surprised that there was an opportunity to sign Fernando and revelled in being able to drop that fact into the conversation with the media - thus signalling to everyone that the talks with Fernando's manager had not really been about Carlos Sainz Junior.
Red Bull are very much Sebastian Vettel's team at the moment and it was significant that Seb has said publicly that he prefers Kimi to Fernando. But then again drivers will always prefer to have a slower team-mate than a faster one. Even the mighty Ayrton Senna wasn't immune. He vetoed the signing of Derek Warwick fearful that he might prove too competitive.
On the face of it a Vettel + Raikkonen combination could work well, as could a Vettel + Ricciardo line-up, provided they have the fastest car. Up until now, with incremental change for the last few years Adrian Newey has been able to keep Red Bull at the front. In 2014 it might be a completely different story with the new turbo engines.
Right now we have the engine development locked down after many years of comparing V8 outputs, a limit on revs and power equalisation. That genie is out of the bottle in the new turbo era, 2014. Engine-builder Mercedes may well produce an engine unit that can easily eclipse anything that Newey might gain back by sophisticated aerodynamics.
What's more, McLaren have also been devoting themselves to 2014 glory and will be showing up as far tougher competitors. So Red Bull might not have the fastest car, or even the second fastest car, they might easily have the third fastest car.
Next year there is going to be a much bigger emphasis on energy recovery and what has been Red Bull's recurring Achilles heel over the past three seasons? It's KERS unit.
Faced with all these uncertainties, they have the opportunity of banking one absolute certainty. There is no better driver on the grid than Fernando Alonso. He has proven with Ferrari - especially last year - that he doesn't need the fastest car to win races. Investing in Fernando and creating an Alonso/Vettel line-up is the surest way of continuing the phenomenal success that the team have enjoyed over the last four years. Success is like a drug - the more you have, the more you want.
If Christian Horner is confident that he will be able to compete with the surge from Mercedes and its five technical directors next season then they will sign Raikkonen. If they are super confident they'll sign Ricciardo, but if they wanted to be rock solid certain that they've given themselves the best chance to retain the titles they will surely win again this year then they would go for Alonso.
Fernando doesn't need the money any more - at 32 he's running out of time and opportunities, not cash, so the negotiation needn't be held up by an extravagant salary demand. It is a possibility.
When Lewis moved to Mercedes last year nobody could quite believe it, given the relative lack of success from the Silver Arrows. Alonso to Red Bull is a far more comprehensible move and makes sense for both parties. And you can bet Fernando's mate Mark Webber - if he can't help Daniel Ricciardo into the team will welcome the chance of some even tougher competition for Seb.
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