Mattia Binotto believes Sebastian Vettel will want to remain in Formula One and says there was a "mutual understanding" for his Ferrari departure.
The Scuderia this week announced that four-time F1 champion Vettel would leave the Italian team when his contract expires at the end of the 2020 season.
Carlos Sainz will take Vettel's seat next year, but Ferrari team principal Binotto thinks the German has the desire to take his place on the grid in 2021.
"I think he's so passionate about this sport. He'll want to get back into it, although he'll have a few things to think about. We're looking at a long-term project," he told Sky Italia .
"I think it was the right thing for him and for us. Only Seb knows what he will do in the future. He's a great driver and he'll make the right choice.
"He spent six years at Ferrari and the team has a special place in his heart. We have a good relationship with him, which isn't to be taken for granted when there's a parting of ways. There's a mutual understanding of the reasoning behind this change."
Sainz a 'gamble'
Binotto acknowledges signing 25-year-old McLaren driver Sainz is a "gamble", but thinks the Spaniard and Charles Leclerc can be a formidable pairing.
He added: "During this period, we've had time to reflect, mull over and reach this conclusion. We're pleased with our choice.
"The world has changed during this time and we have to look at the future of F1 in a different light. There's a new challenge that we must all embrace and we believe we've singled out the right person to complete our team.
"Carlos Sainz is a young driver and Ferrari haven't had such a young driver pairing in 50 years. It's a gamble for us and we're happy to be taking on this challenge. We want to begin a new cycle.
"It'll be a tough path, but putting faith in youngsters is also geared towards that, not just for the drivers, but also for the mechanics. Sainz is a very nice and intelligent guy.
"He is a real team player and works very hard, so having him alongside Charles will be useful. He's done well over the last five seasons and has almost always reached the finish line, earning his team so many points in the process."