According to German magazine Auto Bild, German driver Nico Hulkenberg may be on his way out of Renault. The report further states that Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon could be primed to take his place at the French outfit.
In order to achieve that, the French driver will likely be released from his contractual obligations with Mercedes and join Renault for the 2020 F1 season. What this could also mean is that Valtteri Bottas is more or less safe for the coming season.
The Mercedes team is mere days away from confirming their 2020 line-up, and weighing their options between the Finn and Ocon. In fact, team boss Toto Wolff revealed that the two are the only options they have to drive alongside Lewis Hamilton.
Auto Bild believes that Bottas’ contract will extend and Ocon will head off to Renault to partner Aussie Daniel Ricciardo.
If this turns out to be true, Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul will be eager to snap up a talented driver. As an added bonus, it will be a French driver in a French team, to the delight of the Renault fans.
Unfortunately, it would also mean that poor old Nico Hulkenberg would be left on the lurch and without a drive, for the second time in his F1 career. The good news is that, he will have a few options for the 2020 season, namely Haas. The American team are quite possibly in dire need of a driver, especially with their current pair not being up to scratch.
In fact, Romain Grosjean’s tenure with the US outfit is expected to end soon, and his performances are certainly not earning any brownie points. With Haas F1 openly declaring that a rookie driver is not an option, it will mean that Hulkenberg can come knocking with a pen in hand.
Thought-provokingly, this pits Nico Hulkenberg against Kevin Magnussen, who have a history, and not all of it good. The two drivers have had several past on-track run-ins, with the most famous one culminating in that iconic line, ‘Suck my b*lls, honey’.
However, the Dane admitted that he had “nothing against Hulkenberg”.
“We are opponents on the track and we are not friends,” Magnussen declared to Auto Motor und Sport.
“Ultimately, I have great respect for Nico and I personally have nothing against him. As a person, I don’t know him, but I have never heard anyone talk badly about him.”