Sebastian Vettel returned to Formula One action after admitting for the first time that he was not offered a new deal by Ferrari.
Vettel and his F1 rivals were due to get the season underway back in March but the traditional season opener in Australia was axed at the eleventh hour due to the coronavirus crisis.
F1 chiefs have worked tirelessly to salvage the season and this weekend the Austrian Grand Prix marks the first of eight European races in 10 weeks.
And the drivers were finally back on track as they took part in opening practice on Friday at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
Indeed, four-time world champion Vettel could now be entering the final year of his F1 career after he was dumped by Ferrari.
Speaking at the opening round in Austria, the 32-year-old said: “It was obviously a surprise to me when I got the call from (Ferrari boss) Mattia Binotto and he told me that there was no further intention for the team to continue.
“We never got into any discussions. There was never an offer on the table and therefore there was no sticking point.”
The Ferrari hierarchy grew tired of Vettel’s failure to launch a successful championship challenge against Lewis Hamilton in recent seasons.
Charles Leclerc secured more pole positions and victories than Vettel in his debut campaign with the Scuderia last year, and was rewarded with a bumper new deal.
Ferrari then moved to secure the services of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in 2021 to play back-up to the 22-year-old Monegasque.
Mercedes are yet to confirm their line-up for next year, but while it seems improbable that Hamilton will leave, Valtteri Bottas could be moved on. That could free up a seat for Vettel and allow the most decorated driver line-up of all time.
McLaren have moved to sign Daniel Ricciardo in place of Sainz, providing a vacancy at Renault. Racing Point, set to be rebranded as Aston Martin next year, might also be an option for the German.
“If the right opportunity should arise then it is quite clear what I will do,” he added. “If that’s not the case then I’ll probably have to look out for something else.
“I have a very competitive nature and I have achieved a lot in the sport. I’m motivated and willing to achieve more.
“To do so I need the right package and the right people around me, so that’s what I’m looking out for at the moment.”