D he summer break wasn't really a break for Nico Hülkenberg. The 32-year-old German sensed that during these four weeks at Renault, the decision about his future would be made. On Monday evening (August 26th) the long Rhinelander was certain. Esteban Ocon is coming, he has to go. “In the beginning it was of course a disappointment. But I now had four days to digest the news, 'admits Hülkenberg and goes into detail:' The last two or three races looked pretty good, then the dynamics suddenly changed. I already had a premonition that something was wrong. So it didn't come as a complete surprise. ”
After the disappointing first half of the season, Renault is under a lot of pressure. With Daniel Ricciardo you bought a seven-time GP winner, and then in the first twelve races you were further away from a podium place than ever before. It could have looked better if you hadn't tripped over your feet too often. The pressure on the team that the Renault board of directors wants to invest less from its own coffers in Formula 1 is increasing. So something had to happen. Any sign that something is changing. Preferably a new driver, even if Hulkenberg has nothing to do with the fact that Renault's upward trend has stalled in the third year. The fact that the new man Esteban Ocon is French was certainly not a disadvantage.
Other teams are interested
Under these circumstances, Nico Hülkenberg can even understand his employer. “It is a pity that our paths are now parting. We achieved our goals in the first two years, not in the third. There is of course a lot of pressure on the boiler. Dissatisfaction has also spread among management. The desire for change quickly arises. I am a little sorry that we cannot continue our work together. ”
Despite the bad news, Hülkenberg does not make a dejected impression. But on the contrary. He now knows what he is about and can tinker with his future. “I feel free and relaxed. Other teams are interested in me. I have to probe that now. But it has to be right for me too. After nine years in the business, I'm no longer a beginner. 'HaasF1 team boss Guenther Steiner admits:' Nico is on my list of candidates. '
The options are obvious.The obvious solution is Haas. Hulkenberg could sign there tomorrow if he wanted to. But in the back of his mind there is also the question of what happens at Red Bull if Alexander Albon does not prove himself alongside Max Verstappen either. Red Bull no longer has any alternatives in its own squad. You can only rotate your four drivers. Which, with a view to the Constructors' World Cup 2020, would be tantamount to admitting defeat. So you would have to help yourself from outside. Which has happened before. Mark Webber was not a Red Bull driver when he was signed.
No problem with Magnussen
It will take at least four or five races before you can estimate what prospects Albon will have Has. That might be too late for Hülkenberg. “I'm not afraid to fall between stools,” reassures the blond. How many chairs are there? “You can work it out yourself,” Hülkenberg replies with a quick wit. If he went to Haas he would meet Kevin Magnussen, with whom he had an argument in Budapest in 2017, both on the track and verbally after the race. For Hülkenberg this is history: “I can get along with everyone.”
The Renault driver sees his third season in the team very critically: “I'm not happy with myself in qualifying. The results should have been better. Things went better in the race. Unfortunately, we didn't make enough of our opportunities. ”It is therefore important for Hülkenberg to make a positive impression in the rest of the season. “It's important to still achieve our goals in the last nine races.” And then of course to find a new team. Hülkenberg has already started the search. He didn't need Renault's decision to do so. “You always talk to people. It's not like you're pushing a start button. It's more of an ongoing process. ”