Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff has revealed they were willing to supply McLaren with an engine for 2018 but ran out of time due to long-running negotiations.
The McLaren-Honda partnership over the last few years has made the likes of Fernando Alonso even less competitive so they began looking for other engine providers over the course of 2017.
They have agreed a deal with Renault for three years but Wolff's latest comments appear to suggest Mercedes were seriously being considered.
"We wanted to give McLaren an engine, the problem is that it dragged on for a long time and we just didn't have the structure in place and the capacity to supply them an engine for 2018," Wolff told ESPN. "It was simply too late."
But Wolff left the door open on a future deal between the two.
"You must never rule out supplying anybody in the future and this is why McLaren or anyone else in the future could be a partner."
That said, one unlikely partner would appear to be Red Bull.
The Milton Keynes based team tried to get a Mercedes deal in 2015, but failed, with Wolff admitting this was partly due to their very public falling out with Renault and a lack of respect shown toward its partners.
Although a split with Renault at the end of the 2018 Formula 1 season has yet to be officially confirmed, it is understood Renault no longer wishes to supply them.
Red Bull has often pointed to the power deficit between its Renault engines and the class-leading Mercedes power units as the reason for its struggles since 2014.
Wolff added: “It is exactly because they are saying it like this and undermining their current partner that they are not having one!
"In Formula One, like everywhere else in life -- be it your private life or business life -- it's about compromise and acknowledging your partner's strengths and weaknesses and helping each other out.
"That is very much the culture we have at Mercedes and that has made us successful in the last few years. Respect is a super important part of our values and this is why we have chosen the partners we have."
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