Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Hulkenberg says he lost his seat to Ocon partly due to “nationality factor”

2019 Belgian Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg believes he lost his seat at Renault to Esteban Ocon partly because the team wanted to appoint a French driver.

Hulkenberg, who will be replaced by Ocon at the end of the year, said nationality was one of the factors which motivated Renault’s decision. “There’s several or many factors probably when a team considers drivers,” he said. “I got the impression it was one piece of the puzzle.”

He denied his salary demands had been higher than what Renault was willing to pay. “That was in line,” he said. “I think we were more or less in agreement.

“But different drivers at different stages in their career, there are different commercial things and there’s also obviously a nationality factor here and some other factors.”

He also believes the team’s disappointing performance so far this season, slipping from fourth at the end of last year to sixth, contributed. “The difficult season that we’re facing probably tipped it over the edge a little bit,” he said.

“Things are connected, aren’t they?” he explained. “I’ve been here three years now: ’17 was good progress, ’18 was still good, this year we have a very tough year and of course with the difficult year we are having there is probably some wish to change, something has to give.

“Obviously it contributes a little bit to that and probably leads to this decision. It’s a pity that we can’t continue, especially this year we wanted to make a step forward but we couldn’t really get it yet so that’s that.”

However Hulkenberg stressed he had no complaints with how the team had handled their negotiations.

“To be honest I think that was all good. The team, the management was always transparent, fair and open. We have a good relationship.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for us to have games and there were no games. There was always straightforward communication. There were no hard feelings on that side.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 12 comments on “Hulkenberg says he lost his seat to Ocon partly due to “nationality factor””

    1. It’s almost a no brainer to want to have a driver change. After 3 years and still no podium when in that time Force India, Williams & even Toro Rosso recently managed it, is enough to decide one isn’t exactly taking a huge risk to decide for a change. The Hulk will probably keep the record for most races without a podium :-/

      1. Cristiano Ferreira
        30th August 2019, 9:11

        Its not really his fault… Yeah he lost his chance in that crazy race but he was not alone in that race too.

        Its not like Renault is fighting for podiums with Ricciardo (their expensive driver) taking a couple of third places either while Hulk is incapable of reaching for third place.

        We are not talking about a “Verstappen / Gasly” situation here.

      2. If we take Palmer and Sainz as a measure the Hulk did fairly well.

        1. Especially considering how highly everyone is rating Sainz after this season.

    2. From the outside it seems he must be right. Ocon is unlikely to be substantially better, he might even be slower or worse for the team.

      Let’s be honest, success isn’t just performance at the technical parts of a job. They could think Ocon is more marketable. Hulk could have personal conflicts with key players at Renault. Or maybe he has become a gadfly on some technical or strategic issue.

      It could also be they made a bad decision, and it doesn’t actually make sense.

      1. It could also be they made a bad decision, and it doesn’t actually make sense

        That’s Squirrel’s M.O. isn’t it?

    3. I feel bad for nico but i think that’s just because he’s a likeable character. his comments here show that he’s a true professional and the way he’s talking about the team shows the relationship is still good. however, he’s had a number of opportunities to get some really solid results (i.e. podiums) and over the years he has not taken them. from renault’s point of view, Ocon is a great driver, unemployed, and they snapped him up. it feels like a win for them.

      1. What other Renault driver has had a podium then mate? Hulkenberg is a great driver the guy who is the 3rd driver of theseason according to this site was utterly embarassed by Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg is in the Perez tier he is a very good driver. Stroll has a podium is he better than Hulkenberg lol…. All that matters is he driving what is car is capable in the standings and doing his job he has not lucked into podiums like others.

      2. @frood19 What other Renault driver has had a podium then mate? Hulkenberg is a great driver the guy who is the 3rd driver of theseason according to this site was utterly embarassed by Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg is in the Perez tier he is a very good driver. Stroll has a podium is he better than Hulkenberg lol…. All that matters is he driving what is car is capable in the standings and doing his job he has not lucked into podiums like others.

    4. Never been on the podium, never sprayed champagne, though clearly he is no less a driver than some who have. I rate him above the likes of Perez, (but tbh, only just…) I see him and Alonso joining forces in FE

    5. It was bad timing and bad luck you couldn’t get Nico’s seat when he surprisingly retired, instead of Valtteri…
      German driver – German team! Obvious logic also for the French…

    6. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      31st August 2019, 2:31

      I’m getting the feeling that Renault is trying to fix its problems by hiring drivers. Last year they hired Ricciardo thinking they were going to improve. They let Sainz go in the process.

      This year they hired Ocon, I suspect they are confident the team will be better off with Ocon instead of Hulkenberg.

      I remember Sainz feeling a bit disappointed when Renault let him go last year on Netflix. Now he’s ranked #3 in the paddock!

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