By sportswriter Michael Butterworth
SINGAPORE, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) — Renault F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg has admitted he is unsure whether he will have a race drive in Formula 1 next year.
It was announced last month that Renault had signed Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon to partner Daniel Ricciardo for 2020, leaving Hulkenberg looking for a new drive.
The German had been strongly linked with a move to Haas, but the American squad announced on Thursday that it would continue with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen next year, and with his F1 options seemingly dwindling, Hulkenberg told Xinhua that he was unsure of his immediate future.
“Right now I can’t say with certainty,” the German said. “It will take a bit more time before we know what’s going on, whether I’ll be in F1 or not, but nobody knows right now. It’s always difficult to give a concrete answer when the situation is not in your hands. You can never be too sure.”
Hulkenberg’s best hopes of remaining in F1 in 2020 would appear to lie with Williams and Alfa Romeo, both of which are yet to confirm their driver line-ups for next year. However, the German insists he is relaxed about the possibility that his decade-long stint in F1 may be drawing to a close.
“I’m not worried. I love F1 and I love racing, so I want to keep doing this with the right team. But if it doesn’t work out, I think I’ve had my fair share of F1, ten years, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world [if I left].”
With his F1 career spent largely in the midfield, Hulkenberg holds the dubious distinction of having started the most Grand Prix without ever securing a top-three race finish, and the German admitted that his three-year stint at Renault had fallen below expectations.
“I think 2017 and 2018 were good, because we were fourth, but this year was when we all wanted to take the next step towards the front, and unfortunately that didn’t happen. The midfield has really grown this year, so it’s very competitive, and we haven’t managed to put ourselves ahead of this train.”
Hulkenberg also offered his thoughts on the future of the F1 calendar, and expressed his disappointment that there will be no German Grand Prix in 2020, after organizers failed to secure the funding necessary to host the race.
“The last two years at Hockenheim have been incredible. I’m not an emotional guy who would say that easily, but the last two years in Germany really got to me, and I’ve never felt so much home support. Hockenheim was packed, and standing in front of the grid before the race with the national anthem, I had goosebumps everywhere. It was amazing to see that, so it is a shame that that is not happening for now. We’re also a big car nation, so it’s a bit surprising that we can’t manage to put on a Grand Prix.”
LINK ORIGINAL: Xinhuanet