Sebastian Vettel is likely to walk away from Formula 1® after the 2020 season, in the view of McLaren team boss Zak Brown.
A dramatic week in motorsport has seen Vettel, 32, announce he will leave Ferrari at the end of this year.
The Scuderia acted quickly to sign Carlos Sainz from McLaren, who in turn landed Daniel Ricciardo from Renault.
With a move to Mercedes seen as unlikely and Red Bull having suggested they will not swoop, Vettel’s main option to remain on the grid appears to be Renault.
But Brown thinks leaving F1® behind is the most probable path for the four-time world champion at this point.
"Clearly it's not a nice environment inside the Ferrari garage with the drivers and management, it seems to not be a happy family at the moment," Brown said to Sky Sports.
"Which I think is going to make for some pretty exciting racing in 2020 because we saw in Brazil the fireworks that were inevitable and building up [between Vettel and Charles Leclerc]. I'm anticipating more of that this year.
"If Seb looks around, it doesn't look like there's a Mercedes or Red Bull opportunity for him, there's not a McLaren opportunity for him, clearly not at Ferrari, so the next best is Renault.
"And the next question is does Seb want to go with a team that is probably not going to win in 2021?
"It's a great team and they too should be moving up the grid but I think unless Seb wants to restart a journey with a team that's back on a journey - then I think he'll end up probably leaving the sport unfortunately."
McLaren did not consider signing Vettel, with Brown revealing they had been in contact with Ricciardo since they narrowly missed out on his signature two years ago, as well as holding talks with Sainz over his future when the offseason started.
"Obviously Seb's an awesome driver and a four-time champion," he said. "But I think we were pretty far down the path in the offseason and knew we would either land with Daniel or Carlos.
"We never really entertained anyone beyond that, and especially with Seb's late breaking news - we were pretty far down the path at that point.
"It was all very above board. We had a sense [Sainz would go], we started talking to Carlos in the offseason about his future with us and whether he wanted to drive for McLaren or Ferrari.
"We've got a very strong, open relationship with Carlos, his management and his father - this didn't come as a surprise given how quickly we announced Daniel. We were very joined up through this entire process.
"We're going to miss Carlos, he's done a fantastic job, but now we have a seven-time grand prix winner in the car and we couldn't be more excited."