AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Honda are willing to supply Red Bull with engines next season but McLaren boss Ron Dennis is blocking any deal, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Saturday.
“At the moment it would appear that Honda are happy to give them an engine and Mr Dennis thinks they shouldn‘t,” the 84-year-old told reporters at the U.S. Grand Prix.
Ecclestone said Honda agreed years ago with the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) and himself that they would be willing to supply two teams in their second year back in Formula One and three in the third.
The Japanese manufacturer sold their works team and pulled out at the end of 2008, but returned this year as engine supplier to McLaren.
“They somehow... made a commitment to Ron that he had a veto and he doesn’t want Red Bull,” said Ecclestone. “Ron has said definitely not, as far as he’s concerned. I don’t know whether his veto will stand up legally.”
There was no immediate response from Honda. McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier would not comment when asked on Friday about the veto.
The fact Red Bull have been talking to Honda hints at how desperate they are to find an engine after falling out with Renault over their lack of performance in the V6 turbo hybrid era.
They have said they could quit if they cannot find a competitive engine but Honda have been even further behind, with McLaren suffering their worst season and plagued by reliability problems.
Renault could also still be an option, despite the bad relations, but the French manufacturer has yet to announce its plans for the future despite talk of them taking over Lotus.
Ecclestone said he did not know whether Renault would continue.
“You’d have thought they’d have made up their mind before now,” he said. “When I spoke to the president (of Renault), he said they would make an announcement in December.”
Dominant Mercedes have ruled out supplying Red Bull while Ferrari appear willing only to provide them to the former champions’ sister team Toro Rosso.
Ecclestone suggested that Red Bull had ended up in their predicament because they mistakenly thought that they had a deal with Mercedes.
“In defense of Red Bull, and (principal) Christian Horner in particular, the reason they canceled their agreement with Renault was so they could do the deal which they thought they’d done with Mercedes,” he said.
Mercedes bosses have said there was never an agreement because Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz never followed up the initial approach.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar