The FIA has confirmed manufacturers will not be allowed to supply lesser specification engines to its customer teams in 2016, in a move widely seen as a way to ensure Red Bull remains in Formula 1.

A tweak to the technical regulations means Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda cannot offer second-tier engines to their customer teams from 2016.

"Only power units which are identical to the power unit that has been homologated by the FIA in accordance with Appendix 4 of these regulations may be used at an Event during the 2016- 2020 Championship seasons."

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It comes after it was speculated Toro Rosso could run 2015-specification Ferrari power units as part of its much needed engine deal..

Significantly, however, it potentially opens the door for Red Bull - who is finalising its divorce from Renault - to get the factory-level specification power unit it has been pushing for after it rejected the original offer of an engine akin to that offered by Haas and Sauber.

Though this doesn't mean that Ferrari will necessarily go ahead and offer any engine to Red Bull at all - and it doesn't exclude the manufacturers from prioritising their own power units in terms of software and mapping -, it is the first evident step by the FIA to maintain the former champions remain

F1 teams have already expressed some support for a rule tweak to allow 2015 engines to be used next year, but this still needs discussion at the next F1 Commission meeting.


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Interesting development if true.
As far as I'm aware, Redbull still has a valid contract with Renault, and I believe the most likely option left if they are to stay in the competition.
Does this mean that even if Renault takeover Lotus they would still have to provide RedBull with equivalent spec engines.
Ferrari and Mercedes have refused to provide same spec engines and are under no obligation to do so as they are not currently customers.