Nico Hulkenberg, on his entry into Formula 1, was touted as one of the most talented drivers on the grid. The German driver made his F1 debut in 2010 for Williams Racing in the Bahrain GP where he finished in 14th place. Except 2011, when he was test driver for Force India, Hulkenberg has competed in all seasons of Formula 1 representing four teams in nine years.
Recently, Renault F1 team announced that they have signed the Mercedes test driver Esteban Ocon on a multi-year contract. This meant the end of Hulkenberg's stint with the French team. Renault will be fielding Daniel Riccardo and Esteban Ocon for the next season.
Rumours were going around the grid that the German driver might join Alfa Romeo, but they were put to rest after the Italian team announced the resigning of Antonio Giovinazzi.
There were strong reports that the Red Bull Racing team principal Christain Horner does not want the German driver at Red Bull. These reports were confirmed with Red Bull announcing the signing of Alexander Albon for 2020 season. The Thai-British driver will drive alongside Max Verstappen for the upcoming season.
With Robert Kubica retiring, Williams are still yet to confirm their second driver alongside George Rusell for the next season. While Nico doesn't have much options, he was linked with a move to Williams. Hulkenberg denied the speculations saying the return to the British team is not on the cards. This could also very well mean that Williams racing is planning to recruit their test driver Nicholas Latifi for the next season.
The only thing changing about Toro Rosso next year will be their name. The team will be called Alpha Tauri from the next season. It is expected that they retain their current roster of Daniel Kyvat and Pierre Gasly for the upcoming season.
So looking at the current landscape of all the teams, the driver lineup for 2020 is almost confirmed.
- Mercedes (Hamilton, Bottas)
- Ferrari (Vettel, Leclerc)
- Redbull (Max, Albon)
- McLaren (Sainz, Norris)
- Renault (Riccardo, Ocon)
- Toro Rosso (Kyvat, Gasly)*
- Racing Point (Perez, Stroll)
- Alfa Romeo (Kimi, Giovinazzi)
- Haas(Grojean, Mag)
- Williams (Rusell, Latifi)*
Analyzing all the above options it looks like we won't be seeing the German behind the wheel for the upcoming season of Formula 1. It will be exciting to see what is up next for the German. A return back like he did in 2013 after being a test driver in 2012 should not be ruled out completely but looks very unlikely at this point of time.
Hulkenberg's record isn't that great which will entice the teams to sign him. He holds a very dreadful record of most race starts without a podium finish. The German driver has started in 175 races with a fourth-place being his best finish. He broke this record in 2017 after starting 129 times and still not managing to secure a podium.
What he lacks in results he gains in experience. With 175 race starts there is no denying the fact that Hulkenberg has the experience to compete with the best drivers on the grid. With the FIA introducing car designs for 2021, teams would want a driver who can adapt and deliver some consistent results.
With that being said, it is quite certain that Hulkenberg won't get a seat for the next year but a return later is debatable.
What do you guys think? Can Nico make a return to Formula 1? Let me know in the comments section down below.