Thus, Ferrari looks to have placed their full support behind the Monégasque driver for the long-term, signing him up to a contract that expires at the end of the 2024 season and securing his future, and leaving Vettel out in the cold.
Would McLaren be comfortable letting go of its popular driver pairing, though? One that it feels is responsible in helping repair the damages done during the second Honda era, to be replaced by an expensive and likely short-term driver? Probably not.
Should Ricciardo find himself leaving Renault and on the way to replace Vettel, the German might find a new home at the struggling works team, as it tries to claw its way to the top of the F1 food chain after several fruitless seasons.
His feedback would be valued at a team looking to improve quickly, and Esteban Ocon’s deal is not likely taking up too much of the budget at Enstone and Viry.
With Ricciardo gone, it frees up the funds to make a run at Vettel, but any agreement would likely be in the form of a multi-year deal, the rumoured sticking point in his negotiations with Ferrari, who preferred a one-year contract.
It could be that Renault sees Vettel as a highly coveted but restrictive and expensive option, when the team has made clear it hopes to promote from within and use talent from within its young driver programme moving forward.
If no competitive seat opens up then, is Vettel content to walk off into the sunset as a four-time Formula 1 world champion?
He has entered his name into the record books on multiple fronts, is statistically tied for fourth as the most successful F1 driver off all-time, and has a family life to enjoy away from the racing world.
Does he need to stick around? From the wording of his statement on leaving Ferrari, it’s not out of the question that he could be about to walk away.