SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Ferrari would be “more than glad” to provide engines to Formula One rivals Red Bull in place of Renault, the Italian company’s chairman Sergio Marchionne said on Sunday.
“I have a lot of respect for Red Bull,” the Fiat Chrysler chief executive told reporters in the Austrian Grand Prix paddock.
“I think they’ve done a lot for the sport, they’ve had the world championship for a number of years. I think they will find their way again and if we can help them get there, we’d be more than glad to do it.”
Red Bull, champions for four years in a row from 2010 to 2013, have become increasingly critical of current partners Renault and their failure to narrow the performance gap with Mercedes and Ferrari.
The team, whose drivers have yet to appear on the podium this season, are contracted to Renault for 2016 but both sides are weighing up the longer-term options.
Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko, a close confidant of the team’s billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz, told Austrian reporters after the Canadian Grand Prix that Marchionne had offered a deal.
Asked whether Ferrari were in talks with Red Bull, who used Ferrari engines in 2006, Marchionne replied: ”I talk to everybody.
”It’s in our DNA, we’ve done it before,“ he said of the possibility. ”I think we can provide engines to any of the teams that want to race.
“As long as we keep control over the aerodynamic work on the car, I think there’s going to be enough distinguishing traits between us and the competition. We are more than glad to try and provide a level playing field now that the engine is there.”
The Austrian Grand Prix has been dominated by speculation about Red Bull’s intentions, with Mateschitz and others expressing their unhappiness with Renault and the current state of Formula One.
The sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told reporters he doubted the Austrian would walk away but suggested playfully he might want a new partner.
”He’s a bit frustrated,“ said the Briton. ”He’s spent a lot of money, does a good job and has been fantastic for Formula One... he’s always supported Formula One.
“I know Mr Mateschitz very well. There’d be more chance of him pulling out if he was winning than losing,” added Ecclestone.
“It doesn’t mean that because he’s falling out of love that he wants a divorce. He just needs a new girlfriend.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly