Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

Hulkenberg says he is unlikely to return to Williams in 2020

2019 F1 season

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Nico Hulkenberg doubts he will return to Williams for the 2020 F1 season, despite it being one of few options left for him to remain in the sport next year.

The Renault driver, who will be replaced by Esteban Ocon at the end of the season, made his F1 debut for Williams in 2010. The team has a vacancy for next year, but Hulkenberg says he is unlikely to be the driver to fill it.

“I think they need somebody else,” he said when asked by RaceFans. “I think I’m not the right person, the right driver for them.

“It’s just where I am in my career, where they are, and the timings, I just don’t think it’s the right timing for us. With all due respect to the team, obviously I’ve raced for them and everything, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

With Red Bull set to keep the four drivers it runs across two teams in place next year, the only other chance of a race seat for Hulkenberg could be to step into Antonio Giovinazzi’s seat at Alfa Romeo. Hulkenberg said he could see himself driving for them, but ruled out a reserve or test driver role at any team. “That’s not an option,” he said.

Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, Interlagos, 2010
Hulkenberg made his F1 debut with Williams
Hulkenberg suggested he could “maybe not race for a while” if the right opportunity doesn’t come along for next season.

“Honestly, I don’t know right now. It depends on what happens, what unfolds here. Once we have that answer, I’ll look at other things.

“But I don’t want to rush into something and just jump on something to race. It needs to be something that I like, a challenge that excites me.

“So I have no conclusion, no perfect answer for that yet.”

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Author information

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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20 comments on “Hulkenberg says he is unlikely to return to Williams in 2020”

  1. Hulkenberg is a better driver than the following current F1 drivers IMO:
    L. Stroll

    And equal to the following IMO:
    S. Perez

    So it’s a shame he won’t be involved next year. No doubt I’d rather see Ocon in that car though.

    1. Just noticed I have Bottas down twice.. I didn’t mean Hulk = 2 X Bottas :)

    2. For me the following drivers are better than him, in no particular order:

      The following drivers are equal:

      I see Hülkenberg as a top 10 driver.

    3. Disagree slightly with this:

      Better than:

      C Sainz ( In same team , out qualified, out raced and outpointed)

      Arguably as good as:
      V Bottas
      S Perez ( I think Perez is better but I said arguably)
      E Ocon ( I think Hulkenburg is better but I said Arguably)

      Can’t Judge
      Lando Norris
      George Russell
      Kimi Raikonnen

      Not Better Than:

      1. I agree that he’s better than Giovanazzi.. Not sure ghe’s better than Albon and pretty sure in Sainz’s current form Hulk wouldn’t beat him..

        the point we agree on is the crucial point.. There are only about 5 drivers that he’s not better than IOO.. Definitely too good to be leaving.

        I mean he’s holding his own against RIC who’s definitely on the sharp end..

      2. Agree, and I dare to ‘judge’ that he’s still better than Norris/Russel/Raikonnen (the first two with more potential though).
        I still struggle where to put the current Vettel. Some stellar performances, but also some below par ones.

      3. I disagree that he is Better then Kvyat. Just look at the German GP. Hulkenberg could have gotten a podium but he took himself out. Kvyat made no mistakes and got another Podium in his career. For the rest i agree.

    4. The thing is though, if you’re looking for drivers capable of getting that one result to put you in the news, a lot of the drivers “definitely not as good as Hülkenberg” in the lists given have proven to be better than him on that count.

      Grosjean has 10 podiums at least 3 of which were in cars no better than a racing point and certainly one in a car that was dreadful. Magnussen scored one on the only chance he had a car capable of it. Perez scored podiums in the same car as Hülkenberg. Stroll scored a podium in a car that was inferior to Hulkenberg’s on the only chance he got. Kvyatt has scored podiums in good (RB) and bad (Toro rosso… in 2019) cars. I’d go as far as to say that apart from Stroll (or maybe on a damp fast track), all of said drivers are probably as fast as Hulk on one lap.

      Ok, some of them have got a reputation for not being as stable and regular, but I’d actually argue some have cars that are difficult to drive compounding the matter. And of course, all of them will retire with a podium story to talk about…

      I do wish Hulk could do so to mind.

      1. And even if it’s all a question of luck, I believe Napoleon refused to promote “unlucky” officers (or something like that). What I’m saying is that at some point, Hulk’s end of career while others carry on is not that surprising

      2. @tango

        Grosjean has 10 podiums at least 3 of which were in cars no better than a racing point and certainly one in a car that was dreadful

        You’re reaching, my man. All of Grosjean’s podiums were in rapid cars. 9 of them came in 2012-2013, and Kimi pretty much proved that that Lotus was well worthy of podiums pace wise. One came in 2015, and while the car wasn’t capable of podiums most of the time, it was rapid that race. I mean Grosjean qualified 4th, and Maldonado was 8th. Not to mention, the rest of the podium contenders like Ricciardo, Bottas and Vettel suffered unlucky races, so it’s not like he dragged a “dreadful midfield car” to P3 on pure merit. It was the best podium of his career, though.

        Stroll scored a podium in a car that was inferior to Hulkenberg’s on the only chance he got.

        This is just straight up false. Williams was very competitive that race and both Stroll and Massa reached Q3 (started 7th and 8th), while Hulk was ousted in Q2 in P14.

        I’d go as far as to say that apart from Stroll (or maybe on a damp fast track), all of said drivers are probably as fast as Hulk on one lap.

        Are you sure? Hulk has had a very good qualifying record in his career. He comfortably beat Perez in their three years together (35-24), comfortably beat Sainz (13-8), and has been beaten only by Ricciardo (7-11). Ironically enough, he beat Palmer 16-0 in qualy and Palmer and Magnussen were actually somewhat close in that respect in 2016 (although I do remember something about unequal treatment of the drivers at Renault towards the end of that year, and Hulk also got preferential treatment in 2017, but still 16-0 speaks volumes). Anyway, I see absolutely no basis on which you can possibly make that claim?

        Also, I can understand if people feel that the Hulk is overrated, and even judging him purely by his missed podiums is okay at this point (even though I feel that is largely unfair), but god please don’t extend that argument to twist facts.

  2. It would be a desperate shame if he ends up leaving F1. Terrible luck though – never seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

    1. @rocketpanda He has been paired with very good or at least very decent teammates the last couple of years (Pérez, Sainz, Ricciardo) and he seems to be about as fast as them. It’s just that fails to maximize on opportunities when there are big points at the table the way drivers like Pérez and Ricciardo are able to. You cannot just blame it to terrible luck, it’s also self-inflicted bad luck.

  3. I wouldn’t mind seeing him at Ferrari in 2021 if Seb decides to call it quits. He’d be a great wing man/2nd driver behind Leclerc.

  4. Well, he already gave a clear indication back in Singapore that he wouldn’t have an awful lot of motivation towards returning to Williams, so no surprise.

  5. Unluckiest man in F1? not really, Chris Amon is out on his own with that moniker. He’s had a decade to do something with his undeniable talent. You could say he’s the luckiest, one of the few who gets paid sans sponsorship and he’s lasted this long without a solitary podium. Maybe the last straw was Hockenheim, albeit in unbelievable conditions. You take your chances or you take off.

  6. What Hulk means is that Williams needs a driver that brings money and sponsors.

    He’s stating that in that part of his career he has nothing to prove, and wants to be paid to drive.

  7. The trouble for Nico is if he doesn’t get a seat then he can expect to sit out a year. If that happens then he can expect to be at least 6 months behind in experience compared to all the other F1 drivers by the time negotiations start for 2021, and a full season behind when he finally gets into a car.
    If, on the other hand, he were to take the lower pay at Williams, then he’s still keeping up with the other drivers in terms of experience. It also means travel and accommodation to each GP is paid for by someone else, and he’s still being seen on the track, which is free advertising for himself.
    Of course, he could opt to go to another series, like Indy car, which probably pays fairly well, maybe even better than Williams, or Formula E, which probably pays less than Indy car.

  8. I think this is it for Hulkenberg in F1. Real shame. He is not a elite calibre driver, but is without doubt good enough to be in F1, certainly ahead of the likes of Stroll, Grosjean, Magnussen, Kvyat, Giovinazzi etc.

  9. Hulkenberg leaves F1. Would be nice to see the #27 return a few years later with Mick Schumacher…

Comments are closed.