As the F1 paddock waits on confirmation - or denial - that Racing Point is lining up a shock move for Sebastian Vettel, it has been revealed that Renault had previously held talks with the four-time world champion as it sought a replacement for McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo.
While the Enstone-based team eventually opted to re-sign Fernando Alonso, who won both his titles with the French outfit, Vettel won all four of his titles using Renault engines.
"Fernando was one of the three top drivers we were talking to, Sebastian and Valtteri also," team consultant, Alain Prost, himself a four-time champion, told Reuters.
"But Valtteri is driving a Mercedes, it's difficult for him to leave the Mercedes team at the moment," he added. "We did not know exactly what was the motivation of Sebastian... but Fernando has always shown his motivation to come back to the team. Even last year, in Abu Dhabi we had a long discussion with him."
The Frenchman, whose nickname when racing in F1 was ''The Professor", believes the team was right to sign Alonso, though he confesses to having some doubts in terms of the Spaniard's attitude.
"What happened with Fernando and different teams was my biggest problem and question mark," said Prost. "I talked to Fernando many times about that.
"I really trust him that he's going to have another philosophy," he continued. "Two years outside Formula One in my opinion was maybe not bad for him to have a different feeling, a different view.
"He knows what he's going to get in terms of performance of the car, he knows that 2021 is also going to be a little bit difficult. He's prepared for that. I really think he's going to be very different than people understand."
In the meantime, the French legend predicts title number seven for Lewis Hamilton, and possible number eight.
"The more stable he is in a team, the more stable he is in his life, you can see that he is better," said Prost, who won three of his titles with McLaren and the fourth with Williams. "To beat Lewis for a world championship, especially with that car and the team he has now, is going to be very difficult. Almost impossible in normal circumstances."
Asked how many titles he envisages Hamilton winning, Prost said: "He has six. I would say eight, easy..
"I cannot see anybody else winning this year," he continued. "Maybe Valtteri.
"It depends how many races you have and if you miss one or two because you have a mechanical problem, you never know. He's in the same car.
"But, I cannot see another car winning a championship against a Mercedes this year and next year. After, I don't know... maybe Renault."
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