Nico Hulkenberg lost his Renault cockpit. The Frenchman Esteban Ocon will replace the German in 2020.
Now it is official: As previously reported by ABMS and F1 Insider, Mercedes-Junior Esteban Ocon gets a two-year contract with Renault for the Formula 1 seasons 2020 and 2021.
This, in turn, means the German Nico Hulkenberg is out. Hulkenberg to ABMS and F1 Insider:
“It’s a pity that the journey with Renault will end after the season, especially as we haven’t been able to reach our goals yet. We had hoped to take another step forward this season, but unfortunately, we haven’t managed that so far.”
He added: “It is well known that the choice of drivers is not only about performance, it is a whole bundle of factors. But that’s the way it is. Surely we would all have liked to see it differently.
“I take it easy and I am not angry at the team
“But nevertheless, I’ll keep my focus and try to reach the maximum success for our team in the remaining races! With regard to 2020, I am confident to find a good solution, but there is nothing to announce at the moment.
On the reason why Hülkenberg was sacrificed:
“This year, the progress has been non-existent and there the problems already begin. That the team, the board, and management are dissatisfied and are crying for change, is nothing new.”
Hülkenberg learned of the news on Monday evening before Spa. His first call, however, did not go to the team bosses of other racing teams but to someone else:
“I first called my mom,” he grinned.
Looking to his future in Formula 1, Hülkenberg seems to be “relaxed” despite the current uncertainty:
“I’m not under pressure being “between jobs” – because I know there’s interest and I know it’s still in my own hands, but it has to be right for me too,” said Hülkenberg.
Within the paddock, Hülkenberg gets a lot of support including fellow German and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel:
“A driver of his caliber definitely deserves a place in Formula 1. That’s why I don’t think he’s out – I hope he still finds a place.”
Getting support from a Ferrari driver might be a good omen, as Hülkenberg might drive with a Ferrari engine in the back. Right now, Haas-Ferrari is currently considered the most likely option for the ‘Hulk’, who could replace Romain Grosjean at the end of the season.
Team boss Günther Steiner to ABMS and F1 Insider:
“Hülkenberg is definitely a candidate. He is a driver with a lot of experience, who has often proved how fast he is. But a decision has not been made, yet.”
ABMS knows: Grosjean is already looking for a new home within Formula E.
And: Ocon has signed with Renault now. But Mercedes still has an option for 2022 for the former Mercedes junior.
*This article was first published in German at autobild.de/motorsport.