Mercedes-Benz and McLaren are in advanced talks with Force India about an engine supply and technical cooperation deal for next year, autosport.com has learned.
Although Force India have a customer engine contract with Ferrari for 2009, it is understood that they are reevaluating their engine situation because of the raft of regulation changes that are being made for next season.
Sources have revealed that discussions have opened with Mercedes-Benz and McLaren about a deal which could eventually expand beyond just a simple customer engine relationship.
As well as possible technical cooperation on the car itself, there are also suggestions that part of the deal could also include Force India running Briton Paul di Resta, who could be groomed for a future switch to McLaren.
A McLaren spokesman confirmed to autosport.com that talks with Force India were ongoing, but insisted that nothing had been agreed.
"McLaren and Mercedes-Benz are convinced that the independent teams are of vital importance for F1 - in fact they are the bedrock on which Grand Prix racing has been built," said the spokesman.
"Therefore, should we be in a position to cooperate with an independent team and should such a cooperation make economic sense, we would be prepared to do so. Nothing has been decided yet, but we are engaged in various discussions and will inform the media of their outcome as soon as we are able to do so.
"We are also in discussions with, and seeking the guidance of, FIA president Max Mosley in connection with the matter."
Force India team principal Colin Kolles would not comment on the state of the discussions with Mercedes-Benz and McLaren. When asked in Japan about his team's engine situation for 2009, he said: "All I can say is we will have an engine next year."