While most automakers that participate in F1 do so as either a team owner (like Ferrari and Mercedes) or as an engine supplier (think Renault or Honda), the rumored Aston Martin deal would take a different approach. According to Autosport, the proposal would have the Red Bull Racing team run Aston Martin branding – but not its engines. Those would be provided by Mercedes, just like the engines in the British marque's upcoming slate of road cars.
In that regard, the deal would not be unlike the one which Red Bull currently has with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which sees the team running Renault engines and Infiniti branding. Andy Palmer was a pivotal figure in brokering that unusual arrangement when he was working for Carlos Ghosn, and is now tipped to be brokering a similar deal in his new capacity as Aston Martin's CEO.
Though Aston has found glory in sports car racing (including Le Mans and its various associated series), it was never much of a contender in grand prix racing. It competed in a handful of races in 1959 and 1960, but never achieved results worth bragging about. Aston was rumored to be plotting a return when David Richards sat as chairman of the company, having run Aston's racing program as well as Honda's F1 team previously. Those rumors, however, never materialized. Whether this time 'round gains any traction remains to be seen - Aston Martin declined to either confirm or deny the reports when reached for comment by Autoblog.
Red Bull has been growing increasingly dissatisfied (and increasingly vocal about its dissatisfaction) with Renault engines over the past couple of seasons. Though the two parties won four back-to-back world titles together, things took a noticeable step backward after the new turbo engine regulations took hold for the 2014 season.
Nissan/Infiniti and Red Bull are contracted to continue collaborating until the end of next season. After that is when the new Aston deal could take hold, and Mercedes is reportedly keen on the idea so that it could add another customer to its F1 engine supply business and offset the costs of development. That could effectively prove the end of Renault in F1 (at least for the time being). Aside from Red Bull, the French automaker currently supplies only that outfit's sister team Toro Rosso.