Red Bull is now all but admitting that its next engine partner will be Ferrari. The energy drink stable, also comprising the Faenza based team Toro Rosso, has reportedly told Renault it is terminating the contracts, and strong rumours suggest even Carlos Ghosn has now accepted the split. "I can say more after our meeting," Dr Helmut Marko, the Red Bull official closest to team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, told Speed Week, referring to a forthcoming meeting with Renault in Singapore.
The Ferrari option materialised quickly, amid reports Mercedes had decided against working with Red Bull, and Ferrari's Sergio Marchionne entered the fray with a new offer. Marko confirmed: "The Mercedes discussion came to an end before it went into any depth. There were certain conditions that we never even came close to discussing in detail. Now let's see what engine we will go with," he added.
"Perhaps we will beat them anyway, which would be even more unpleasant for them than if it had happened with a Mercedes engine." As Honda is struggling even more than Renault, there is almost no doubt now that Ferrari will power not only Red Bull next year but also Toro Rosso. "That would certainly be the ideal solution," said Marko, referring to the "synergies" between Red Bull's two teams.
Asked, however, if Ferrari is only a 'temporary solution' while Red Bull works on a longer-term plan, Marko did not deny that. Auto Motor und Sport has speculated that Red Bull has been toying with collaborations with AVL, Ilmor and the VW brands, even proposing to finance some of the development costs. "We see this (the Ferrari deal) as a first step in order to regain a competitive engine," said Marko. "So that we are no longer hampered from the outset."
All that is pending now is the final signing-off by Ferrari and Red Bull, but Marko insisted that a further delay will not hurt preparations for 2016. "No," he said, "because Red Bull Racing is very well placed technically. We are less pressed for time than Toro Rosso, because they are simply a smaller team. But quite clearly, the sooner a decision, the better." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing