Michael Andretti has revealed that he had signed a deal to race for Ferrari in F1 in 1992, only for the opportunity to be squandered by his CART Indy Car boss Carl Haas.
Andretti, the son of F1 legend Mario Andretti and one of the most successful drivers in the history of the CART Indy Car series, was on in the midst of winning campaign in the 1991 CART championship with Newman/Haas Racing when opportunity came knocking.
The chance to see the Andretti name once again inscribed on the side of a car from the House of Maranello was simply irresistible.
However, to cover all his bases, Michael Andretti had extended his deal with Newman/Haas, but only after Carl Haas had ensured the young charger that - despite the terms of his contract - he would not stand in the way if F1 came calling.
"It was ’91. We were at Elkhart Lake, and I had just signed a contract with Newman/Haas for ’92,” Andretti told RACER's Marshall Pruett.
"But there was a clause in there about Formula 1, that he said that he would never enforce, that if I to go Formula 1, he would never stop me. And so, in ’91, I happened to sign a contract.
"This is something that not too many people know. I signed a contract with Ferrari to drive for them in ’92."
But Haas, mindful of the Andretti family's commercial value to the championship winning team, changed his mind and strictly enforced the terms of his driver's contract.
"When I brought it back to Carl, he said, ‘I’m not going to let you do it,’" Andretti recalled.
"I’m like, ‘Well you said you would!’ I was really, really mad at him. We were staying at the same hotel, and we’re heading out race morning, and I wasn’t even talking to him.
"He’s in the car in front of me, and we get in the car, and his coat’s arm sleeve was sticking out the side of the door when he closed it.
"So, the whole way , you see this thing flapping in the wind. And it’s like, God, I want to be so mad at him, but I just couldn’t stay mad enough."
Andretti eventually made the move to F1 in 1993, but with McLaren, an endeavor that was all about being in the right place at the wrong time for the American racer, with results falling painfully short of everyone's expectations, including his own.
Looking back on his botched Ferrari deal, Andretti believes his track record in F1 might have looked quite different had the opportunity come to fruition.
"I think it was a three-year deal that I signed," he added. "And so, they knew that it would take some time for me to get going, and Prost was going to be my teammate.
"So I felt like I was going to be able to learn a lot there. I thought it was a great opportunity. To drive for Ferrari right out of Indy cars would have been awesome.
"So, it’s something that was really disappointing.
"It would have been cool, even though that year wasn’t very strong," he said.
"But hopefully if I could have run with Prost… at that time you were able to do unlimited testing and things like that.
"I would have been able to be a lot more prepared. And I think it would have been less political with me going to do that, than it was when I joined McLaren.
"It would’ve been an interesting exercise, but unfortunately it never happened."