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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, 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’sworks-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.

Additional reporting by: Jonathan Noble

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