Sebastian Vettel is a generational talent who will be out to prove he remains among the elite in the 2020 season, but his former team-mate Sebastien Bourdais feels he may leave Formula 1® afterwards.
Four-time world champion Vettel, who raced alongside Bourdais for Toro Rosso during his debut season in 2008, will leave Ferrari when his contract expires at the end of the campaign.
Carlos Sainz has been signed to replace him at the Scuderia, with Daniel Ricciardo agreeing to leave Renault and take the seat the Spaniard will vacate at McLaren.
Renault appears to be Vettel's best realistic option to continue his F1® career, though Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said they are taking the situation into consideration.
Bourdais backed Vettel to earn himself big offers with his on-track performances when the season gets under way, having been delayed from March until July due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, if the car for 2021 is not right, Bourdais has no doubt the 32-year-old German will walk away.
He told Stats Perform: "I think that when you win three or four titles, you are part of the elite of your sport so he will remain as someone who left a mark in time, on his generation.
"I don't really know where he's going to go but his spell with Ferrari will finish at the end of the year and I think he will be motivated to show that he's still part of the elite, so I think he'll produce a season that gets him back on track and gets him new opportunities.
"Honestly, I can't really be in his shoes, because I don't know his state of mind, but if he has a chance to remain at the front of the grid he'll take it for sure.
"But if there's no good car available, I don't see him continuing."
On what Vettel was like as a team-mate Bourdais added: "He was a young wolf. It was his first full season in Formula 1® … but he was already extremely fast, he was showing how goal-oriented he was and he was hugely talented."