Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko says he advised Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to take a sabbatical year away from F1 and consider a return in 2022.
In May earlier this year, Ferrari announced that it would part with Vettel at the end of the current season, a decision that many believed would encourage the four-time world champion to conclude his career in F1.
Vettel - who won 39 races and every single one of his world titles with Red Bull Racing - remained close to Marko after leaving the Milton Keynes outfit in 2014, and consulted with the Austrian last spring in the wake of his dismissal by Ferrari.
With opportunities to join either Mercedes or Red Bull seemingly non-existent, Marko told Vettel to sit on the sidelines for a year.
"I advised him to take a break for a year", Marko told German broadcaster Sport1.
"He could recharge himself in the meantime and then return with a new impetus and focus on the opportunities that 2022 would offer.
"I think that a few seats could become available for 2022."
But Vettel ultimately decided to remain in F1 and embark on a new challenge with Aston Martin Racing from next season.
While Marko believes the Silverstone-based outfit can fight for podiums in 2021, the 77-year-old insists race wins will be hard to come by.
"He wanted to stay in the picture and thinks he has a good chance of finishing on the podium with Aston Martin. In my view, that is quite realistic," said the Red Bull motorsport boss.
"But whether he can also win? I doubt that based on the car. I hope this new direction will work well for him."