The Thursday before the Belgian GP, the first race back after the summer break, is always a day for announcements and that’s what two teams did. Firstly, Mercedes confirmed that Valtteri Bottas would stay for 2020 and then Renault announced that Esteban Ocon would rejoin the sport with the French outfit.
Mercedes keeps “status quo” for 2020
Mercedes kicked-off the day by announcing that Valterri Bottas will remain with the team to partner Lewis Hamilton for next season despite reports that the Finn would be pushed aside. Having improved his form this season against Hamilton having earned him the second seat at the Reigning World Champions for next season.
“For 2019, we set Valtteri the challenge of coming back even stronger than we saw him in the first part of 2018 – and he has achieved that, with some really impressive performances in the early races this year.
Toto Wolff, Mercedes F1 Team Boss
Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff and Mercedes management went into the summer break with a conundrum by either keeping Bottas or signing reserve driver, Esteban Ocon. Bottas’s unfortunate run of results, a retirement in Germany followed by an 8th place finish at the Hungarian GP after contact with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on the opening lap meant that the Finn endured a recovery drive, was potentially the end of the road for the Williams driver but that wasn’t to be. Bottas trails Hamilton in the championship by 62 points and is only 7 points ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Ocon’s French return
Esteban Ocon will return to racing next season with Renault to partner Daniel Ricciardo meaning that Nico Hulkenberg will have to find an alternate seat at another F1 team. After a year as Mercedes reserve driver, Ocon had been in serious talks in racing for the German outfit for next season but with Mercedes confirming Bottas for 2020, Ocon has found himself back where he started at Renault.
Having been the team’s reserve drive in 2016 before grabbing a race seat with Force India for 2017, Ocon has signed a 2 year deal and will partner former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. Ocon’s arrival means that Nico Hulkenberg has lost his seat at the French team.
This is the ideal fit for Renault. The French team now have a proven race winner in Ricciardo and now a French driver in Ocon for the French team.
F1 reveals record-breaking calendar
On Thursday, Formula One announced the draft calendar of the 2020 Season with a record-breaking 22 races across the globe. Ahead of F1’s 70th season, there’ll be two new additions with a return to Zandvoort for the Dutch GP and a new race in Vietnam.
Famous F1 races such as the British, Spanish and Mexican GP’s have all be included on the calendar with the German GP dropping out while the contract for the Italian GP is currently being finalised.
What now for Hulkenberg?
Nico Hulkenberg now finds himself out of a drive for next season and will now be searching for a new seat at a different team for next season.
“I had a hint – like a couple of weeks already through the summer break, I knew”.
Nico Hulkenberg speaking on the announcement that he had lost his seat at Renault for 2020
For 2020, Hulkenberg now has a range of options. The most viable and predicted move could be to Haas F1 Team. The American outfit is understood to have reached their patience with current driver Romain Grosjean and is understood to be very interested in Hulkenberg for a race seat alongside Kevin Magnussen for 2020.
Other options for Hulkenberg include a seat at either Red Bull, Racing Point, Alfa Romeo, Toro Rosso or Williams.