Renault says the idea of supplying some form of unbranded engines to Red Bull next year is still dependent on the French car manufacturer deciding it actually wants to stay in Formula 1.
As Motorsport.com reported after the Mexican Grand Prix, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is weighing up a proposal to continue supplying power units to Red Bull for a final season even though they will be called something else.
But although the timing is tight for Red Bull, which needs to know which engine it is using so it can prepare its design, Renault has said that situation will not come before the much bigger decision about the French company's wide scale involvement in F1.
Ghosn is poised to make a call soon on Renault's future F1 involvement, which is set to include a takeover of Lotus to resurrect a works outfit.
Renault comes first
Renault's F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul said: "What I think is fair to say is that Red Bull has found a solution. We will confirm to what extent that involves Renault, but the first thing we need to decide is our involvement in F1.
"Our involvement in F1, and an announcement on our involvement in F1, is not starting with Red Bull - because we have made it clear that we have no interest in remaining an engine supplier.
"So first, it is what do we want to do in F1? And what are the elements associated with that? What do we do with Lotus? What do we do with Red Bull/Toro Rosso?
"And also, what are affiliated parties of the Renault programme – like Total/Infiniti – doing ?
"I know there has been some speculation on that, but the triggering event is the decision of our CEO."
Although there has been a public falling out between Red Bull and Renault this year, the engine company is open to the idea of extending the partnership because it does not want to be responsible for the team being unable to race.
However, after the wave of criticism Renault faced, Abiteboul has confirmed that it would be wrong for the partnership to continue in its current format, and with the engines having the car company's logos on.
When asked about the plans for unbranded units, Abiteboul said: "If we supply Red Bull, it is because it makes sense for us for the future.
"I have been encouraging everyone to look forwards rather than backwards, but clearly there have been some elements of history – and in particular more recent history of Red Bull and Renault, that makes people very nervous when it comes to brand association.
"I fully understand that Red Bull can criticise the product. Some other people don't understand, but I understand that they criticise the product. They can criticise me, the technical group I lead, but to criticise the brand is just not acceptable.
"So in that respect, what you just mentioned [with unbranded engines] – there is some legs to what you mentioned because that sort of ticks the box."