Ferrari and Red Bull discussed Alfa Romeo plan

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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.

After Red Bull failed in its attempt to convince Mercedes-Benz to supply it with engines for next year, the Milton Keynes-based team opened discussions with Ferrari about a potential tie-up.

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.

Sources have revealed that the idea was for Ferrari and Red Bull to create an engineering partnership to work together on an engine for 2016.

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."

Having abandoned the idea of the Ferrari offer, Red Bull tried to get a Honda deal.

But with that stumbling thanks to a veto McLaren had, Red Bull is now closing in on renewing its partnership with Renault in a deal that may involve unbranded or rebranded power units.

Ferrari still open

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne said at Mugello last weekend that he remained open to the idea of a technical partnership with Red Bull, but only if they had separate development paths.

"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.

"But it will not be in the context of Ferrari providing Red Bull with an equivalent engine to the one used by Ferrari in the races.

"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.

As well as the car company's logos featuring on the current Ferrari, the Italian manufacturer has also been linked with a potential return to racing in junior categories.

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

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Teams Red Bull Racing , Ferrari
Article type Breaking news
Tags alfa romeo