Dr Helmut Marko has confirmed that Lewis Hamilton really did approach Red Bull this year to explore the possibility of joining the dominant F1 team.
The Hamilton-Red Bull saga is one of the hottest topics at the 2023 finale in Abu Dhabi, after team boss Christian Horner mentioned the seven time world champion's approach during a recent interview with the Daily Mail.
"It's remarkable how much traction this has got," Horner said on Friday. "So thank you to the Daily Mail for going exclusively large on this item."
Hamilton, who signed a two-year Mercedes contract extension in late August, argues that it was in fact Horner who sent him a message on his phone earlier this year.
But Horner has now gone further, revealing that Hamilton's father Anthony also made an approach.
"Look, we haven't had any serious discussions with Lewis," he insisted. "There was never a seat available.
"Inevitably when drivers go through tough spots - and let's face it, Lewis hasn't won a grand prix for two years - it's inevitable that questions will be asked up and down the paddock," added Horner.
As for Mercedes, boss Toto Wolff insists that it was actually Horner doing the sniffing around.
"Through an external agency that we work with, Christian enquired about Lewis' contact details and then discussed a possible seat. It was Christian who requested information about Lewis' availability," he told Sky Deutschland.
Wolff said Hamilton and Horner then "had a conversation", with Lewis then immediately telling his own boss about their chat.
The big question is why Horner dropped the initial bombshell at all.
Wolff continued: "Anthony has not been involved since 2010. But you do wonder why such a story has come up at the last race.
"I don't mean Helmut, because he is serious and he ultimately makes the decision about the drivers. I think the other (Horner) wanted to get some media attention by using Lewis' name. And if he needs that, he should do it.
"But I don't know what drives him. They won this season. Enjoy it. Stay humble, but enjoy it," the Austrian blasted.
Former F1 driver Christijan Albers agrees with Wolff that Horner was engaging in "typical attention-seeking".
"Sorry, but even if the situation is as he says, you simply don't do this. I think it's unprofessional and publicity-craving and maybe feeling like you have to throw something out into the world because you're afraid of not making it into the Netflix series.
"But it's idiocy," he told Viaplay.
As for Red Bull's team consultant Marko, 80, he confirmed that Hamilton really did reach out to Red Bull.
"Yes," he told Osterreich newspaper.
"But [Max] Verstappen and Hamilton in one team doesn't work. For Max, what happened in 2021 went too deep."
Marko also told Kleine Zeitung newspaper: "Christian Horner informed me that people close to Hamilton contacted him to ask whether there was a possibility that he could drive with us.
"I said that the atmosphere would be too charged due to the events of 2021 and that it can't work for emotional reasons. And also financially, we can't afford the two most expensive drivers.
"But the crucial thing was that the climate between the two is irreversibly damaged."
Albers, though, admits the combination would be hugely exciting for Formula 1.
"It would be very cool," said the Dutchman, "but of course Lewis would never drive next to Max.
"It's not relevant anyway, because he has already signed with Mercedes. But he certainly also spoke to Ferrari. And he's joking a bit when he says he'd like to race next to Max. Because no way!
"I'll never believe that. Never."