Nico Hulkenberg opens up on 'sad' F1 exit, but says he's not retiring
"For sure I'm going to miss it next year when I have to watch the first race on TV," Hulkenberg tells Brundle as he prepares for F1 exit
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 22/11/19 11:33am
Nico Hulkenberg insists he's not retiring from Formula 1 but is resigned to losing his place on the grid next year, with the German opening up to Sky F1's Martin Brundle about his "sad" departure and future ambitions.
Hulkenberg, a highly-rated driver with 10 years of experience in the sport, will be replaced by Esteban Ocon at Renault in F1 2020 and although he was initially confident of securing his stay, his options have fallen away in recent months and there is now only one unconfirmed seat, at Williams.
"It looks like, in all honesty, that there is no seat available now," Hulkenberg told Martin in a Sky F1 special in Brazil.
Williams, backmarkers in 2019, are expected to confirm F2 frontrunner Nicholas Latifi as George Russell's team-mate for 2020.
"I guess it's not the right seat for me and the timing... I'm not the right person for them to be honest," Hulkenberg admitted.
"I'm not retiring. I love Formula 1, I love what we do here, I love the competition. I can live with it, I think 10 years is a long time and a fair share of Formula 1.
"But for sure I'm going to miss it next year when I have to watch the first race on TV."
While Hulkenberg, who was linked with Haas, Alfa Romeo and Red Bull, believes there's a chance of a return in the future, there will be those who point to the unfulfilled potential of his career, if this is the end.
Hulkenberg was arguably more successful than multi-F1 world champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel as a junior, but despite flashes of brilliance in F1 - including a Brazilian GP pole in his rookie season with Williams in 2010 - he will perhaps be better known for having the longest streak of races, 176 and counting, without ever setting foot on the podium.
Hulkenberg has been consistent throughout his 10-year stay, from Williams, to Sauber, to Force India and most recently Renault, but despite beating most of his team-mates, never earned that move to a title-contending team.
"Of course I would be lying if I said [leaving] doesn't touch me, of course I'm sad to leave Formula 1 and not to race," said Hulkenberg. "But if not here, there are other racing series where you can get that thrill."
So what are the 2020 options for Hulkenberg?
Well, he's already ruled out a reserve driver role in F1.
"To go and do that, when you're young and at the beginning, and I did that in 2011, I think that's the right and obvious thing to do," the 32-year-old stated.
"To do that when more advanced in the career, it's kind of a hard one to take when you've raced so many years consecutively. That role, I'm not sure about."
Despite links with Formula E and IndyCar, it seems more likely that Hulkenberg, a former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, will be taking a year out of full-time racing.
"I'm definitely a fan of open-wheeler racing," he added. " will be a true test for me, because all my life has been about racing and now not to have that will be quite a shock and quite a contrast.
"It's a bit into the unknown but it's definitely an exciting time ahead."
The last race of the 2019 F1 season takes place in Abu Dhabi on December 1, and will be exclusively live on Sky Sports F1.