The unlikely saving grace for Red Bull?
Just to add to the rumours, here's an idea on the subject of Red Bull's future.
Honda has sent shockwaves through the world of F1 with their announcement the Japanese manufacturer is leaving F1 for the fourth time, at the conclusion of 2021. The usual stability and expectant nature of the identity of F1's power unit suppliers hasn't been rocked to this level since the Summer of 2013 - where Honda first let on they would be joining F1 as an engine supplier to McLaren in 2015.
Since then Honda has supplied three teams and is the only engine manufacturer to have won a race with two different teams in this period.
But you've probably read enough about this already. So instead of talking about Honda, I believe there's a small possibility for something considerably more groundbreaking to follow this unwanted surprise.
Let's look at the team that has dominated F1 since the hybrid era began in 2014. Mercedes couldn't really have achieved anymore than they have since then - wrapping up every drivers and constructors title. And alongside this they've supplied McLaren (until 2014), Williams (since 2014), Force India/Racing Point and Manor (in 2016) with the best power unit of the bunch.
But what if Mercedes decided they could have just as much success for a fraction of the cost by selling their all-conquering works team? Instead of completely bowing out of the sport like Honda though, they keep supplying their existing power unit customers; Williams, McLaren and Aston Martin (Racing Point).
However this is where it gets a bit more interesting. They take on Red Bull and Alpha Tauri as customers too. With Red Bull effectively becoming Mercedes' huge new defacto works operation. Similarly to how they are currently with Honda.
This may be less of a strain on Mercedes than you'd think, thanks to the soon-to-be rule of homologated power units until the next rule change mid-decade. Ofcourse if their works team exited, the deal would only be a net increase of one team to supply instead of two. Unless with the coalition of two giants of the sport, Red Bull decided to part ways with Alpha Tauri to focus solely on the main team.
Plus there's the role of Max Verstappen to consider. With Honda exiting, Max is surely reconsidering his options. A Red Bull Mercedes works team tie up would be an enormously appealing prospect and might be the only way for Red Bull to keep hold of their star driver.
Depending how crazy I want to go with this idea, Mercedes could also pile all of their race team's resources and knowhow (from the race team at Brackley) into Red Bull Racing (in addition to the engines). What a monstrous team that could be with Toto Wolff taking on an advisory role to Christian Horner as the Team Principal.
However mad and out of the question this idea is, the likelihood of Red Bull wanting to return to the status of 'Customer Team', and especially with Renault, is very low indeed. The four back-to-back championships has definitely earned them the right to continue fighting for the top step of the podium. But judging by Red Bull's extreme caution taken with Honda before the deal was signed, even evaluating the Honda operation for an entire season in Toro Rosso beforehand, this whole crazy idea is a longshot.
How much of all that is wishful thinking and will categorically never happen? Probably all of it, but that's the power of dreams.