After 62 races, Formula One will possibly see the last of Nico Hulkenberg, barring a miracle. The 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be the German driver’s final outing in F1 and with Renault. After the race, Hulkenberg will be forced to hand his keys to Esteban Ocon for 2020.
So, in light of Hulkenberg’s impending departure, Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul paid tribute to the German. Nico Hulkenberg parts ways with the French outfit after three years together. In their maiden season together, Hulkenberg helped them to sixth place and in 2018, they beat Haas to take fourth place, while Hulk was best of the rest in the driver’s championship.
Admittedly, 2019 has been a tough campaign, with customer team, McLaren leapfrogging them. Even though Renault made the call to run Esteban Ocon, instead of Hulkenberg, Abiteboul praised Hulk to the high heavens.
“[Nico’s] contribution has been instrumental in our reconstruction and progression,” said Abiteboul to the official Formula One website. “We have harnessed his experience and ability to deliver strong results and he has played an important role in Renault’s Formula 1 journey. We want to ensure we end our time together with the best result possible.”
With all doors slammed shut, poor old Nico Hulkenberg will have to hope that in 2021 at least, he could make a return. The 32-year old confessed that he enjoyed his stint with Renault and lament some “nearly” moments. The most prominent one was when he crashed out of podium contention at the 2019 German Grand Prix.
“It’s been three memorable years for me at Renault,” he said. “There have been highs and lows, but I’ve enjoyed my time as a driver here. We’ve had some great results and some ‘nearly’ moments, all of which I’ll remember for a very long time.
“We have one more to go and we’ll be giving it our all for the best possible result.”
Renault are locked in a tight battle with Toro Rosso for fifth place in the constructors’ standings. The latter are just eight points adrift, courtesy Pierre Gasly’s sensational second place-finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix last time out.