After Falling Out of Favour With Renault, What Next For Nico Hulkenberg?
A sporting career is shortlived, shorter for some than it is for others. In Formula One, it can be even shorter for the spotlight shines intensely if you perform and gets even hotter if you don’t. The latter applies to Nico Hulkenburg, but he hasn’t done anything to suggest otherwise. The German first entered the sport in 2010, has driven for Williams, Force India, Sauber and currently drives for Renault. However, Renault has decided not to renew his contract, opting to sign Esteban Ocon for the 2020 Formula One season.
The reasoning being is that Ocon is more marketable to French audiences for the Renault brand. Hulkenberg is one of 5 drivers since 2005 to win the Formula 2 championship in his debut season, the others being Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Charles Leclerc, and George Russell.
He does have speed on his side, he’s out-qualified Daniel Riccardo on multiple occasions this season. And he is a relatively consistent driver able to bring the car home. Sometimes he does have lapses as occurred in the wet German Grand Prix.
But such incidents happen to the best. No Formula One driver has the indefinite right to stay in the sport otherwise Nigel Mansell would still be driving. But Mansell’s 15 years in F1 brought home trophies, 31 wins, and a single F1 championship.
Hulkenberg has yet to step on the podium. It’s fair to say he’s never had the best car to enable him to do so. Yet he has tasted success at LeMans having won it for Porsche in 2015. However Formula One is highly competitive.
With just 20 race seats each driver is like a tradeable stock option. One bad race and the value plummets. One good race and the value increases. It’s the nature of the Formula One beast.
Hulkenberg’s options for the 2020 season are limited. Alfa Romeo is a possibility. Hass was another. Yet the oddity a low-quality driver like Kevin Magnussen is favored over quality drivers like Hulkenberg.
Yet Nico Hulkenberg is wise to the fickle nature of Formula One, and he seems to accept it is how it is. With new younger drivers coming through Hulkenberg is seen as an elder statesman at the age of 32.
But time will also catch up with the younger generation as it always does. Nine years competing in F1 is a good run. Could have been better, but hey, it is what it is.