Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz has said he would 'accept' keeping his teams in Formula 1 if they had a Ferrari engine for the next few years.
While longer term Red Bull is looking at options to link up with a manufacturer – with a VW/Audi tie-up possible as early as 2018 if the German manufacturer can be convinced to commit to an F1 programme – in the short term Ferrari would at least allow the team the chance to return to competitive form.
Speaking to Austrian television broadcaster ORF, Mateschitz said that finding a proper power unit was essential, and Ferrari could do that.
"That would be, for the next two or three years, a very acceptable solution," said Mateschitz, who said that early talks with Ferrari had been positive but that the deal was not yet done.
When asked just how competitive he believed Red Bull could be with Ferrari engines, he replied: "If Ferrari as a work teams, and with [Sebastian] Vettel, cannot deliver [the championship] then it will not be possible for us as a customer.
"But we can get to the first three rows of the grid, and from there on to the podium."
Rumours of an VW/Audi tie-up longer terms have surfaced again in recent weeks, but team sources say that a recent boardroom shuffle has put on hold any hopes of convincing the German manufacturer to enter in the next three years.
Renault divorce agreed
Mateschitz also confirmed that his team's long standing relationship with Renault will come to an end later this year, as both parties had agreed that a split was the best way forward.
"The separation from our engine partner takes place at the end of the season by mutual consent," he said. "It makes no sense to work together: we could not do that to our teams any longer."
He added: "It is not our aim to be fifth of sixth in the championship. We need a new engine."
Quitting still possible
Until Red Bull's engine deal with Ferrari is in place, the team's future in F1 is not guaranteed, and team sources are adamant that if it cannot guarantee itself performance parity then it could still quit.
Mateschitz himself admitted the future was not defined yet, but assured his staff that if he pulled the F1 programme then he could find them jobs elsewhere in the Red Bull empire.
"Should we leave Formula 1, our employees (800 in MK and 300 in Faenza) would by no means be unemployed. We should find for them other tasks."