Former F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen insists that Sebastian Vettel's decision to leave Ferrari at the end of 2020 does not necessarily mean that the German is about to retire from motor sports altogether.
"Looking at the Ferrari announcement, two things are clear," he wrote in his regular column for Unibet this week. "The first is that negotiations ended without a solution and they decided to split.
"Negotiations means that, for both the team and driver, the original intention was to try and do a deal," he continued. "In public Sebastian had been quite open about his hopes to agree a new deal, so this is not about a decision to retire; they were simply unable to agree a deal."
Hakkinen felt that Ferrari's decision to sign an early deal with Charles Leclerc had been a significant factor in how the talks with Vettel had gone.
"Sebastian’s negotiations with Ferrari were never going to be easy because the team had already made a long term commitment to Charles, and Sebastian’s performance had not been quite as good," he said.
"Sebastian has a big decision to make about his future," Hakkinen acknowledged. "He was not considering retirement, but he will now have to look at what other options are available in 2021 and 2022.
"[He will also have to] consider how he feels about the job of remaining a F1 driver, especially if he is unable to drive for a winning team.
"Although he is only 33 this year, he made his debut in F1 at a very young age - 19 - and I am sure that when you start so young, it also becomes more difficult to maintain the high energy levels you need to stay at the top of this sport.
"As a competitive driver used to winning races and going for the World Championship you always know when your energy level starts to drop and your absolute commitment starts to go away.
"Personally I would like to see him continue as he remains a quick driver and a great ambassador for Formula 1, but only he can make the final decision.
"He will know in his heart what the right decision is," Hakkinen added.
The Finn also looked back at his own decision to retire from the sport at the end of 2001, admitting that a big accident in Melbourne had left him shaken.
"Incidents like this started to affect my confidence," he revealed. "That lead to my decision to stop.
"I told my McLaren boss Ron Dennis in Monaco that year, which came as a shock to him and was also not easy for me.
"I explained that if I was losing my confidence just a little this would mean I could not be so consistent with my lap times, and ultimately not do the best job for the team."