Fiat Chrysler president Sergio Marchionne wanted Toro Rosso to be powered by Alfa Romeo-branded engines in 2016.
That is the claim of Germany’s Auto Bild Motorsport, in the wake of the so-called ‘Red Bull engine crisis’ that almost silenced the energy drink brand in F1.
Ultimately for 2016, Renault agreed to de-brand its power units for the premier Red Bull team, while Faenza based Toro Rosso secured a supply of year-old Ferrari engines.
But Auto Bild claims that Marchionne, who doubles as the Ferrari president, offered a solution in the form of an Alfa Romeo deal for Toro Rosso.
“It failed because of the money,” a Red Bull source said, reportedly referring to a figure around EUR 30 million.
“Marchionne wanted Toro Rosso or Red Bull to provide the initial development costs of the new engine.”
Red Bull reportedly turned down the deal, deciding instead that the plan-B of a 2015-specification Ferrari supply was good enough for the junior team.
“It is a step forward for us,” said Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost.
According to Max Verstappen, the step will be a big one, in the order of between eight tenths and a full second per lap.
“The problem,” the Dutch driver explained to Ziggo Sport, “is that we have a 2015 engine and most teams have a 2016 spec, so they will make steps as they go.
“But it looks positive for us anyway — I think we are going to make a bigger step than most teams,” Verstappen predicted.