The Italian marque provide engines for the smaller teams Sauber and Manor but Red Bull are a different matter. They have the best designer in Formula One, Adrian Newey, still aboard and, with plenty of money to spend, could beat Ferrari using the Italian team’s own engine.
Maurizio Arrivabene, the Ferrari team principal, is however confident this will not happen. “Red Bull have big names, with Adrian Newey as chief designer, and it is easy to think if you give them the engine they will build a scary chassis, which means they will be really competitive. My team, my engineers and aerodynamicists know their jobs. For that reason I don’t have a problem and competition is nice when you have a stronger competitor.
“This doesn’t mean tomorrow morning we will give our engines to Red Bull but I don’t see any problem to give our engine to any other team or be scared of the competition before they start. This is not the right spirit of competition, of what Ferrari represents. We fight with everybody.”
Red Bull’s once-strong partnership with Renault – they won four double world championships from 2010 – has broken down, with Christian Horner’s team reported to have requested a termination of their contract, which is not due to expire until 2016.
There have been reliability and performance problems with Renault and their top driver Daniel Ricciardo started at the back of the grid in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix because of engine penalties.
Horner has been critical of Renault and even questioned the French company’s ambition to remain in F1. The situation has been complicated by reports that Renault are about to return as team owners by buying out struggling Lotus.
Red Bull would prefer a switch to Mercedes, who have the best engine and also provide power units for the overachieving Williams and Force India teams. Mercedes, however, do not want to make engines for Red Bull, which means Ferrari is the only option for the Milton Keynes-based team. That would still leave a question mark beside Red Bull’s second team, Toro Rosso, who also used Renault power units.
The relentless success of Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton winning at Monza for his seventh victory of the season, has put pressure on Red Bull and McLaren, whose suppliers have struggled to master the complex demands of making a hybrid engine.
Horner would not confirm a Red Bull divorce but said: “Time is starting to press on. We are now into September and everyone needs to know what are Renault’s plans within the next two weeks.”
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