Ferrari and Red Bull discussed the idea of bringing the Alfa Romeo name back to Formula 1 during their aborted discussions over an engine deal, Motorsport.com has learned.
And although Ferrari was adamant that it would not give the team Ferrari's works-status engines, an alternative plan was considered whereby the two companies could work together on their own development programme.
This starting point for this would be the current Ferrari power unit, but the partnership would be able to utilise the 32 tokens that manufacturers have available to make improvements over the winter.
And to get around the issue of F1 manufacturers not being allowed to run totally different specifications of homologated engines, as this engine could have used a different 32 tokens to the Ferrari, an idea of re-badging it as Alfa Romeo came up.
However, the discussions eventually stalled because of a wide range of factors.
As well as issues relating to Red Bull having to fund such an expensive development programme, there were also questions about intellectual property rights and a fear that the new power unit would never be allowed to outclass the Ferrari works specification.
There were also understood to be complications involving the FIA's homologation rules which state explicitly: "a manufacturer may homologate no more than one specification of power unit."
Ferrari still open
"The possibility of collaborating with Red Bull regarding the development of the power unit is still a valid option, I continue to re-affirm that," said Marchionne, speaking at the Ferrari Finali Mondiali in Mugello.
"The company is available to provide engineering and production services for an engine in a separate project for Red Bull, where Ferrari can commit to provide all its best in terms of engineering and give the chance to Red Bull and other manufacturers to have these engines.
"But they cannot be the same Ferrari engines that race on our cars."
Alfa Romeo push
Marchionne has been clear since the start of this year that he would like to increase Alfa Romeo's profile.
However, the discussions with Red Bull are the first time that the possibility of it being used in F1 has come up.
Speaking in March, Marchionne said: "Our industrial international network will especially focus on Alfa Romeo, and this brand will represent the best that Italy has to offer."
Since leaving touring car racing in the mid-2000s, Alfa Romeo has not been involved in top-level motorsport.
Additional reporting by Franco Nugnes