Ferrari's decision to part ways with Sebastian Vettel understandably had a negative effect on him at the Austrian Grand Prix, says Formula 1® managing director Ross Brawn.
Vettel failed to get out of Q2 on Saturday and ended up finishing the first race of the season on Sunday in 10th, eight places behind team-mate Charles Leclerc.
The four-time champion fell to the back of the field after making contact with Carlos Sainz, who will replace him at Ferrari next year and was trying to overtake Leclerc.
Vettel was disappointed with his performance and Brawn, a former Ferrari technical director, found it unsurprising.
"It was a difficult start to Sebastian's final season with the team," Brawn wrote in his column on F1®'s official website.
"Everything must be swirling round in his head, after he found out Ferrari did not want to renew his services for next season.
"Sometimes, the things that put off a driver are quite subtle. Sebastian has appeared surprised and shocked by what has happened and it must be a distraction, understandably so."
Team principal Mattia Binotto said Ferrari will bring updates to the Hungarian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place after the second race at the Red Bull Ring this weekend.
Brawn said: "It was clear Ferrari were in a difficult position after qualifying, their performance by their own admission was disappointing.
"On Sunday, Charles showed what a talented driver he is, managing his chances wisely to take an opportunistic second place. It is in these difficult races where the determination and talent of very special drivers come through.
"But Ferrari have got to quickly improve the situation otherwise it they face a very difficult season. They have plans to improve the car for Hungary, which is encouraging, but the start of the year is tougher than they anticipated."
A five-second time penalty for Lewis Hamilton enabled Lando Norris to sneak a place on the podium for the first time in his F1® career.
"After a long break, it was great to return with a thriller of a grand prix, with drama throughout," said Brawn.
"And one of the key protagonists was Lando Norris, who couldn't quite break out of Carlos Sainz's shadow in his first year with the team last season, but he came of age in Austria on Sunday.
"His last few laps, when he needed to close the gap to Lewis to ensure he could take advantage of the Briton's five-second time penalty and snatch a maiden podium, were exceptional and simply stunning to see.
"In McLaren, you've got a team in transition, who are getting stronger every race and which have a bright future with a Mercedes engine.
"Carlos is leaving and you can't help the subconscious effect that will have on him and the team. I've felt it before during my time working in a Formula 1® team.
"No matter how professional you are, when someone is leaving, the way you are with a driver who is leaving, versus a driver who is staying, is different. You can't help it, but it happens."