The issue of where Red Bull will get its engines has been looming over the paddock for several months. Though its current partnership with Renault yielded four straight world championships, the relationship has gone sour over the last couple of years as performance has dropped off. That has left Red Bull looking for a new engine supplier, but with Ferrari, Mercedes, and Honda all powering their own entries, none have been particularly keen to motivate Red Bull. A proposal to bring Volkswagen into the sport in partnership with the team fell apart in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal. And while the FIA may be moving ahead to bring an independent engine supplier into the series, that doesn't look likely to take shape in time for next season.
Ferrari – like Mercedes and McLaren-Honda – says it won't simply hand one of its chief rivals the same engine package as it uses itself. But speaking to Motorsport.com at Ferrari's Finali Mondiali event at Mugello this weekend, Sergio Marchionne proposed a different course of action. That would involve making the building blocks of Ferrari's power unit, along with the wealth of its engineering talent, available to Red Bull for the team to plot its own engine development program in parallel to Maranello's own.
The Ferrari chairman (and Fiat Chrysler chief) says he has already raised the idea with Red Bull chief Dietrich Mateschitz and his racing adviser Helmut Marko. If it does work out, we could potentially see Ferrari setting up similar programs with its other customer teams. Those currently include Sauber and Marussia, and Haas and Toro Rosso could soon join the mix as well. Adding Red Bull would mean that over half of the grid would be powered by Ferrari engines as soon as next season.