Bernie Ecclestone has revealed Red Bull served notice on Renault in the belief it had a Formula 1 engine supply deal with Mercedes following a meeting in July.
Red Bull is currently in limbo with regard a power unit supply for 2016 as its partnership with Renault is on the brink of divorce, while Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda all seemingly do not want to step into the breach.
The Milton Keynes-based team finds itself in such a mess in light of talks that took place involving Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, Ecclestone, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff and its non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
"In defence of Red Bull, or Christian in particular, the reason they cancelled their agreement with Renault is so they could do the deal they thought they had done with Mercedes," said Ecclestone.
Ultimately, Mercedes later decided against a deal, with Ecclestone adding: "These things happen in big families."
Lauda has also confirmed Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz failed to follow up on discussions he held with the three-time champion three months ago.
"I went to see him in the early stages because I know him very well," said Lauda.
"I said to him 'Can you freeze your negative thinking about Mercedes and start normally', otherwise it will never work.
"He looked at me for quite a while, because for whatever reason he doesn't like Mercedes, and he said 'All right, I can do that'.
"The other thing we discussed is that if we were to give an engine we wanted to grow together.
"We give an engine because we want the young Red Bull kids driving Daimlers, so in the long term we want a healthy co-operation between Red Bull and Mercedes.
"This is what we aimed for. But he never came back, so the discussions never really started, and the whole thing died away."