Formula One may not be back until next week, but the rumour mill never takes a break. According to the latest ones, Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg may be off to Haas F1 in 2020 as a potential replacement for Romain Grosjean.
The Frenchman has endured a nightmarish season, with more retirements than race finishes. So, it is looking all the more clear that Haas F1 may be losing patience and quite quickly. Poor old Romain Grosjean desperately needs a strong second half of the year to save his job.
Back in 2018, in the first 12 races, he scored 21 points and recorded four retirements. Fast-forward to this season in the same timeframe, he has scored a paltry eight points and been forced to retire from six races.
As a result, all eyes are trained on Grosjean’s seat as the American outfit contemplates its future driver lineup. Some earlier rumours said that Esteban Ocon could end up joining Daniel Ricciardo at Renault, courtesy a ‘gentleman’s agreement’.
Naturally, this would leave Nico Hulkenberg high and dry, however, the German has been linked as a potential replacement candidate for Grosjean. There was actually a convoluted series of events that led to Hulkenberg’s name being dropped as a potential Haas driver.
When Red Bull drew first blood with their Gasly–Albon 2019 swap, many expected to hear from Mercedes on their driver lineup for 2021. The battle is between Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon, the Mercedes reserve driver. The Finn has been tipped to remain in the team and Ocon has been tipped to replace Hulkenberg at Renault. So, if Grosjean does get the boot, Nico Hulkenberg could pounce, in this complicated game of musical chairs.
Granted that Hulkenberg has struggled this season, but Renault have struggled as a whole. In the championship, he lies in 14th, trailing Ricciardo by five points, but Renault are sixth in the constructor standings. This team is a far cry from the one that finished 2018 as the “best of the rest” team in fourth. Hulkenberg, in turn, finished as the “best of the rest” driver in seventh.
Will Nico Hulkenberg replace Romain Grosjean at Haas for the 2020 Formula 1 season? The scenarios that would set up such a move all look ready to be confirmed, so we should know the answer to this question in the very near future. Toto Wolff previously stated that he would like to announce whether Valtteri Bottas will be back with Mercedes or Esteban Ocon will be replacing him next year by the end of August, so that appears slated to be the first major domino in this situation.