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GP Week : Issue 228
The complex web that surrounds Red Bull's future engine supply continues to thicken as Dietrich Mateschitz, the team's billionaire owner, confirmed it would not continue with Renault in 2016. "The separation from our engine partner at the end of the season is by mutual agreement," Mateschitz told Salzburger Nachrichten. "It makes no sense to work together: we could not do that to our teams any longer. "It is not our aim to be fifth of sixth in the championship. We need a new engine." His comments echoed those made by Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn. "It's over," Ghosn said at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. "We have already alerted F1 authorities and told them don't count on us as a provider of an engine." Having come under intense scrutiny all season from a less than competitive Red Bull, Ghosn has clearly had enough as he now looks to end the troubled Red Bull/Renault relationship. "When we were winning championships the Renault name was never mentioned. It was the team that was winning," he explained. “So we started to feel the return on this investment was very weak. “It was intensified by the fact that when the technology changed and we moved from V8 engines to present technology, some of the teams using our engine did not fare well, and the reasons for which they are not performing became the engine. “So you are in the game that when you perform very well you are never mentioned, and when there is a problem with the team you are the first guy to be pointed at.” The current situation has grown increasingly complex in recent weeks with Renault's future in the sport now seemingly dependent on the future of Lotus, a team which is battling its own demons. Red Bull is currently courting Ferrari for a replacement engine. With the current supplier's pool consisting of only Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda it leaves the former world champions precious few options. With Honda expressing no interest in expanding its operation, and Mercedes seemingly unwilling to supply power units to a team which could rival it in the world championship, Ferrari stands as the only possible option. "That would be, for the next two or three years, a very acceptable solution," Mateschitz told Austrian television. However, Mateschitz does hold concerns about using Ferrari power, suggesting that a deal with the Italian squad would only be a stop-gap until another factory deal to opens up. "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," he reasoned. "But we can get to the first three rows of the grid, and from there on to the podium." Speculation has long linked Red Bull to a supply of Audi engines, and even a possible sale to the marque. Currently racing in the World Endurance Championship, Audi has achieved all it can in sports cars, where its primary competitor now comes from sister Volkswagen brand Porsche. However, based on the experience of Honda joining the ranks of Formula One's engine suppliers any deal with Audi would still be a number of years away. That fits in with the timeline Mateschitz set out. Racing at the Circuit of the Americas, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Audi's Head of Motorsport, refused to be drawn into the discussion. “This story has been discussed for 20 years," Dr Ullrich told motorsport.com. "It's nothing new.” 9 GPWEEK.com // 9 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> news red bull confirms split with renault