F1 boss thought Mercedes-Red Bull deal was agreed

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Bernie Ecclestone was surprised by Mercedes’ apparent decision not to supply Red Bull with engines in 2016, as the F1 commercial rights chief believed an agreement had been reached.

After terminating their contract with power unit partner Renault one year ahead of schedule, the Milton Keynes-based squad is still looking for a replacement and facing a “critical situation” according to team principal Christian Horner.

Red Bull did test the waters in order to secure the dominant PU106B engine. But while Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff initially said the door was open, his company ultimately ruled out against powering a direct rival outfit.

“I thought and was told that [Mercedes non-executive chairman] Mr Lauda had made an agreement with [Red Bull owner] Mr Mateschitz and they had a nice handshake when Niki confirmed they would be supplied with Mercedes engines,” Ecclestone told Sky Sports News HQ.

Mercedes’ refusal leaves Red Bull with Ferrari as its sole viable option for power units next year. Although Horner labeled ongoing talks as positive, the energy drinks giant then threatened to quit F1 if it does not secure equal status and engine performance parity with Maranello’s works team.

“I understand they are being offered [Ferrari] engines that are currently in use today and not the engines which will be used in 2016,” added Ecclestone.

With the F1 supremo keen to prevent Mateschitz from pulling out of F1, there have been suggestions that Mercedes’ little TV coverage during the Japanese Grand Prix served as a punishment following their reluctance to supply Red Bull.

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