Mercedes-Benz is planning to supply three customer teams in addition to McLaren next year, fueling speculation that Red Bull Racing will make the switch from Renault.
Red Bull Racing has been considering a move to Mercedes-Benz for some time, although the deal was complicated by the fact that the German car manufacturer was already supplying three outfits -- one more than is allowed without special FIA dispensation.
However, following changes agreed by the governing body, engine manufacturers will now be allowed to supply four teams in total - something that Mercedes-Benz is eager to do.
Norbert Haug, the motorsport boss of Mercedes-Benz, confirmed at the Nurburgring on Saturday that talks were now taking place about finalizing his company's plans for 2010.
"It is not finally decided," he said. "The World Motor Sport Council agreed to change that the limit is not two in the future, but four. We can get some refinancing from supplying three other teams, and this is the plan. So we are in negotiations. We could have three customer teams."
When asked if he could confirm that Red Bull Racing was one of the teams his company was talking to, Haug said: "I cannot mention any team names, but the positive thing is that we get quite a few requests actually – and hopefully it is justified. F1 in this respect is also a fashion, and our engine is seen to be a strong one, maybe the best one.
"Our guys in High Performance Engines did a particularly good job in the last couple of years. I am sure after Bahrain 2004 nobody would have asked us for an engine supply."
Force India already has a long-term deal for Mercedes-Benz engines, and it is almost certain that the championship leading Brawn GP team will extend its current one-year deal with the German car manufacturer.
Red Bull Racing's deal with Renault runs out at the end of this year and the team has indicated several times that it will take its time to decide which engine it will use next year.