Esteban Ocon in for Renault for 2020, Nico Hulkenberg out
With the Formula 1 season all set to resume the grind post the mid-season break at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps, an interesting development has emerged for 2020 with nine races still to complete in the ongoing season.
Former Racing Point driver Esteban Ocon is set to return to the highest annals of Grand Prix racing, with Renault confirming the Frenchman's appointment on a two-year deal for the 2020 season. What makes his re-appointment interesting is that experienced driver Nico Hulkenberg will be ousted as a result.
The German joined Renault at the start of the 2017 Formula 1 season, earning 43 points and finishing tenth on the Driver Standings during a year central to their rebuild, where they tried various permutations and combinations to improve their stature as a competitive midfield team.
The following season, the 32-year-old considerably upped his game. He scored 69 points over the course of the year, finishing seventh in the standings during a time where he was pivotal to their considerably improved runs, as evidenced by displays at Bahrain, Russia, Great Britain and Abu Dhabi.
One could argue that Hulkenburg, reportedly aware of team principal Cyril Abiteboul's decision beforehand, has been dealt a rather rough hand. This is because the team's performance improved consistently over the course of the past two seasons, largely through his gritty efforts on the track.
In contrast to Nico's situation, this is news that will leave Ocon with endless smiles. Regularly linked with Mercedes for a possible 2020 seat, it's a decision that recaliberates the driver make-up at Renault - a team who have fared decently, despite few exciting moments from the 12 races this season to date. The step appears important as they look to keep improving the team's fortunes, currently languishing in sixth on the Constructor Standings.