Helmut Marko says he advised Sebastian Vettel to take a year out of Formula 1 to capitalise on any potential openings at Mercedes and Red Bull in 2022.

Vettel was left without a drive for the upcoming 2021 campaign after Ferrari informed him in May last year that it had decided against renewing his contract and instead would be replacing him with Carlos Sainz.

Shortly after the decision was made, Vettel spoke with Red Bull motorsport advisor Marko about his options, including the possibility of returning to the team with which he won four successive world titles between 2010 and 2013.

Such a move was ultimately ruled out and after Mercedes confirmed that it had extended Valtteri Bottas’ deal at the team for another year, Vettel’s options had narrowed.

The four-time world champion ultimately agreed to join the rebranded Aston Martin squad, replacing Sergio Perez, who in turn moved to partner Max Verstappen when Red Bull eventually decided against continuing with Albon for 2021.

“It was clear that Sebastian would have another difficult season with Ferrari,” Marko told F1Insider. “I didn’t want him to act rashly, but to wait.

“Because it was clear to me that fundamental things would change in the driver market for 2022. For example, I was sure that there would be a vacancy at Mercedes then. But not only there.

“In general, I advised Sebastian to take time off. But that also included Red Bull. I just wanted him to still be on the market at the right time so he could take the best possible offer.

“Above all, I didn’t want a four-time world champion to say goodbye to Formula 1 like that. Not as a friend, and not as a Red Bull man.”

Marko indicated that Vettel would have been an option for Red Bull had he still been on the market when the team decided to replace Albon.

“When Ferrari gave him notice, we had no place left for 2021,” he explained. “At the time, we firmly assumed that Alexander Albon would develop positively, so that he would also be able to drive alongside Max Verstappen in 2021.

“That’s what I told Sebastian - unfortunately, we were wrong. When we had to act, Sebastian was no longer on the list because he had made a long-term commitment to Aston Martin. Therefore, Sergio Perez was the logical decision for us.”

The 77-year-old Austrian said he can understand why a switch to Aston Martin was “very tempting” for Vettel and hopes his former star driver can get rediscover his best form in new surroundings.

“The name is cult, the close cooperation with Mercedes promised a sporting perspective,” Marko added. “I can understand him, even if I personally would have waited.

“I hope he finds his old form again. He knows himself that the last two years were not his best. For whatever reason. But I don’t think he can be dangerous to us. In 2020 his new team was too far away from us for that.

“And that’s despite the fact that Perez was extremely strong, especially in the second half of the season. Even if Sebastian is in top form every race, as a driver he can’t make up for the gap the team had on us. But maybe I’m wrong.”