Double World Champion Mika Häkkinen believes Sebastian Vettel is not yet ready to retire from Formula 1, amid his impending exit from Ferrari.
Vettel will leave Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season once his current contract expires and commented that he will take time to consider his future.
It is understood that neither Mercedes nor Red Bull are interested in his services while McLaren has already completed its driver line-up for 2021, recruiting Daniel Ricciardo to partner Lando Norris.
Häkkinen took a sabbatical after the 2001 season, aged 33, but did not return to a Formula 1 race seat, announcing his retirement the following summer.
But he doubts that the four-time World Champion is prepared to follow a similar path.
“Negotiations ended without a solution and they decided to split,” Häkkinen wrote in his Unibet column.
“Negotiations means that, for both the team and driver, the original intention was to try and do a deal.
“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.
“Sebastian has a big decision to make about his future. He was not considering retirement, but he will now have to look at what other options are available in 2021 and 2022, as well as consider how he feels about the job of remaining a Formula 1 driver – especially if he is unable to drive for a winning team.
“Although he is only 33 this year, he made his debut in Formula 1 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.”
Häkkinen added that: “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.”