Germany’s Nico Hülkenberg has just four races left with the Renault team, and unless he secures a seat for 2020 they may be his last in F1.
It’s an awkward position for both driver and team - with Renault opting for a more high-profile line-up, with French talent Esteban Ocon returning to the grid after a year out as Mercedes’ reserve.
Hülkenberg will no doubt see his time at Renault as unfinished business, and with a record. Most starts without standing on the podium. His 172, including Russia, 44 more than Adrian Sutil.
It’s a shame, given Hülkenberg’s speed, reliability and the time he’s put into developing Renault, which he spoke about last year.
SOUNDBITE (English) NICO HÜLKENBERG,
F1 DRIVER, RENAULT:
“The structures that we’ve built now and put in place. I think everything is kind of settling down now. And we just need to extract more and more from the infrastructure and the people and everything that we have got in the team now. And I think, bit by bit, we’re trying to play catch up, and obviously catch the big teams.”
There are now just four seats left on the 2020 F1 grid yet to be confirmed at Alfa Romeo Racing, Red Bull’s two teams have one each, and another at struggling British team Williams alongside George Russell.
But realistically, Williams is the only one available with Antonio Giovinazzi likely to stay at Alfa Romeo, and Alexander Albon and Pierre Gasly set to fill Red Bull’s seats.
Hülkenberg, though, is using his head not his heart with his options.
“I’m not desperate to stay in Formula 1 and just take anything. I’m not disregarding or disrespecting Williams,” he said.
A move back to Williams, where he began his career in 2010, would be a welcome move with the team needing experience.
But, it may be that it also needs sponsorship beyond what the Hulk can deliver…
… paving the way for its reserve driver Nicholas Latifi to get the nod.
There’s no doubt Hülkenberg would be a solid asset at any team, but his options are dwindling as the season approaches its climax.