Mercedes came close to signing Sebastian Vettel instead of Lewis Hamilton

Sebastian Vettel joined Toro Rosso in 2007 after failing to agree a deal with Honda.

Prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel announced his shock retirement from Formula 1, with the German driver set to walk away from the paddock at the end of the season.

Whilst his time at the Aston Martin F1 Team has been underwhelming, Vettel will go down as one of the sport’s most historic drivers.

The four-time World Champion enjoyed incredible success at Red Bull Racing, where he won all of his Drivers’ Championships in consecutive years, from 2010-2013.

Vettel still holds the record for being the youngest ever F1 World Champion, having claimed his maiden crown in 2010 at just 23 years and 98 days old; not even Max Verstappen could beat this.

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The German driver has won 53 Grand Prix’s throughout his career, with his very first coming at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix with Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Vettel was and always will be an incredibly special driver, one who was loved wherever he went, whether that be Red Bull or Ferrari.

His F1 debut actually came in 2007 at the US Grand Prix, where he filled in for Robert Kubica at BMW.

After scoring points on his debut, he became the first ever teenager to achieve a points finish in the sport.

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However, his F1 career could’ve been completely different had he not joined Toro Rosso and then Red Bull, something it’s been revealed very nearly happened.

In 2007, Vettel was looking for a drive for 2008, with his deal at both BMW and Red Bull yet to be renewed.

Vettel went to Alpine F1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer, who at the time was the boss of the Honda F1 Team.

According to Bild, Vettel said to Szafnauer in 2007, “I will soon have two weeks without a contract with Red Bull or BMW. Are you interested in signing me?”

It’s believed Szafnauer went straight to Gil de Ferran, then-Honda’s sporting director, to inform him that the Japanese team had the chance to sign Vettel, but that it had to be done quickly.

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Obviously, in the end Vettel went to Toro Rosso; however, had he signed for Honda, then perhaps he would’ve gone on to race for Brawn GP and then the Mercedes F1 Team instead.

Szafnauer told Bild that he called Vettel following his announcement, adding that the 35-year-old has a “big heart”.

“I called him (after announcing his retirement) and wished him all the best for the future. When you get to know him as a person, he is a great person, with a big heart.”