Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has confirmed Sebastian Vettel is not being considered as Max Verstappen's teammate next year, despite the four-time world champion showing interest in a return.
Vettel will be replaced by Carlos Sainz at Ferrari next year and it is looking increasingly unlikely that he will remain on the F1 grid in 2021.
He revealed on Thursday that he has held talks with Renault, but that option closed off when the French manufacturer signed Fernando this week. Red Bull has a deal with Verstappen until the end of 2023, but has yet to confirm Alex Albon, who joined the team from Toro Rosso last year, as his teammate for 2021.
Vettel won all four of his championships with Red Bull in the early 2010s, but despite him showing interest in a return to the team, Horner confirmed he is not under serious consideration for 2021.
"Obviously the topic has been raised, we had a brilliant time with Seb, he'll forever be a part of our history, but we didn't expect him to be on the market this year, and our commitment is to our existing drivers, we think we have a great pairing in Max and Alex, and we think that has great potential for the future as well, so unfortunately it's not something that we're going to be able to accommodate," Horner told Sky Sports.
Asked directly if there was any chance of Vettel returning, he added: "That is a definite no, I'm afraid.
"Sebastian is aware of that. It's unusual for a four-time world champion to be out of a drive at this point in the year so I guess he has got a couple of choices available to him, assuming Racing Point or a year out and reevaluate the options in a year's time."
However, Racing Point has Sergio Perez under contract for next year alongside Lance Stroll, the son of team owner Lawrence Stroll.
When Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer was asked if Vettel was an option for 2021, he said. "Like I said before, it's flattering that everyone thinks a four-time world champion should come to our team, but maybe that's because the car is a bit quicker now," he said.
"You are absolutely right, we have long contracts for both of our drivers, so it would only be logical that we don't have space."
The news from those two teams appears to leaves Vettel with very few options. Mercedes has made clear that it would only consider him if its current drivers did not agree to new terms, while McLaren already has Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris under contract for next year.
That leaves Red Bull junior team Alpha Tauri, American team Haas, Alfa Romeo and Williams as the only options left to Vettel.