Now a veteran of 168 races and haven driven for the likes of Williams and Sauber, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg has yet to stand on the F1 podium. Now 31 years old, the German’s F1 future is in doubt in whether he will be on the grid for the 2020 F1 Season.
Since debuting for Williams in 2010, Hulkenberg has remained in F1 since 2012 and has proved to be a consistent and quick mid-field driver who has shown what he is capable off.
His first glimpse of pure pace was in Brazil when he’d taken Pole Position in a rain-affected qualifying session. Since he’s scored 491 points and taken 2 Fastest Laps with a career best of 4th achieved at the 2012 Belgian GP, 2013 Korean GP and the 2016 Belgian GPs.
He’s been with current team Renault F1 since 2017 and has scored 129 of the teams 218 points. His results this season, compared to team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, have been mixed. He’s out-raced the Australian 5 times but trails him by 5 points in what has been a difficult first half of the season for the French outfit.
Plausible 2020 options
Renault: This is the more likely option but interestingly, it depends on what happens at Mercedes. Mercedes management are currently deciding whether to replace Valterri Bottas with Esteban Ocon or to keep the status quo. Now, Renault have been interested in Ocon for a long time, the young Frenchman was a reserve with the team. This would be the ideal fit for Renault but not for Hulkenberg as the German would be dropped in favour of Ocon. On the other hand, Hulkenberg has been with the team since 2017 and has been a major factor in the team’s upward trend in the past few years.
Haas: This has been speculated in the past few races. With Romain Grosjean struggling alongside Kevin Magnussen, the rumours are that Hulkenberg, if he is muscled out of Renault, will go to Haas and join Magnussen. However, Hulkenberg and Magnussen have history, with the pair having their differences on track and discussing them publicly. I think Hulkenberg would suit the Haas overalls but his relationship with Magnussen will play into the minds of Haas management. Would Hulkenberg go to a team that are currently behind lagging behind the team he’s with now?
Red Bull: This rumour started around the Azerbaijan/Spanish GP and was/still is fuelled by the poor performances by Pierre Gasly. The struggling Frenchman has found it hard living up to the standard of Max Verstappen and struggles to have a consistent weekend. I think Hulkenberg would be a great No.2 alongside Verstappen and I’d personally would quite like to see him in Red Bull overalls. Plus, this would be the move he’s desired, a move to a top, competitive team.
Formula E: Now, if you don’t follow Formula E, you wouldn’t have known that Porsche are joining as a manufacturer for Season 6 which starts later this year. Hulkenberg has connections with Porsche through his Le Mans winning-title in 2015. Although Porsche has already decided on it’s two drivers for Season 6 of Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if Hulkenberg were to join the series in preparation for a Season 7 assault with the German team. This is the more obscure option Hulkenberg has but it cannot be ruled out either.
Honestly, it all depends on what happens at Mercedes. If not, Hulkenberg should be retained at Renault it’s because it’s the obvious choice. The pairing of Ricciardo and Hulkenberg work well – there’s no friction, there’re good friends and they work together on track.
Voters on Twitter actually thought that Hulkenberg will be at Red Bull for 2020 – but this was before the mid-season switch at the team between Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon.
If anything should happen, expect Hulkenberg to keep an eye on the F1 paddock and to maybe be in another racing series.