Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

Hulkenberg’s departure would be “a very big loss for F1” – Sainz

2019 F1 season

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Carlos Sainz Jnr says he is mystified why no team have taken up Nico Hulkenberg’s services for the 2020 F1 season.

Hulkenberg faces being left without a drive next year having lost his seat at Renault to Esteban Ocon. He has already said he is unlikely to take the last possible place on the grid for next season, at Williams.

Sainz, who was Hulkenberg’s team mate at Renault last year, said “Nico is going to be a very big loss for Formula 1” if he isn’t on the grid next year.

“I think he’s been one of the most talented drivers in the grid for the last 10 years or nine years that he’s been here. And I still don’t understand how some teams missed out on him.”

Haas, Red Bull and Alfa Romeo are among the teams who have passed on Hulkenberg’s services since Ocon’s deal was announced.

Hulkenberg admitted he is resigned to spending a year on the sidelines if no late opportunity arises.

“A decade of Formula 1 is intense living at that high pace,” he said. “So that’s why I just need to see where once the new year starts, how I feel and how things develop and evolve.

“Which direction? Honestly, right now, I just don’t know. And I don’t want to think about it too much right now because for me, I’m still right here, right now.”

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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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14 comments on “Hulkenberg’s departure would be “a very big loss for F1” – Sainz”

  1. It’s going to be weird with him not on the grid next year. If he’d managed to finish in Germany and get that podium, I wonder if it would have been different. I have been trying to work out who to support next year, but I think with this comment, it’s got to be Carlos.

    1. Cheryl (@genuinehulkfan)
      15th November 2019, 8:40

      The more I reflect on it, I don’t think finishing in Germany would have made any difference to the decision made at Renault. Sadly. If Toto had had the balls to put Ocon in his own team, then Nico would still be racing next year.

      1. The balls, @genuinehulkfan? He needed to be absolutely insane. Don’t know if you noticed, but they have a 6 times world champion and a second driver who’s good enough to finish second and to secure the constructors championship. Toto won’t be in Mercedes for life and I don’t think he cares about where Mercedes will be in 10 years; he knows that the current line-up is stable and strong enough to continue winning as long as he’s there.

  2. A loss for F1 but a gain for Indy Car. I’ll try to watch some Indy Car races next year.

  3. Cheryl (@genuinehulkfan)
    15th November 2019, 8:38

    Damn right Carlos.
    10 yrs an avid Nico fan, it will not be the same at all.

  4. Nice picture.

  5. Well, what else can Carlos say given that Nico outperformed him?

  6. Yep, Sainz knows better than anyone hows good Hulk is, especially given the plaudits Carlos has been getting this year, will probably be in the top 5 on RaceFans end of year rankings, and yet Hulk comfortably beat him last year.

    1. it is hard to argue Sainz has hardly made any mistakes and done a really solid job. But I think The McLaren has been in a hole in the middle between Red Bull and the rest. And quite a large gap. So the consistent results IMO really haven’t been much of a challenge. I sort of get the feeling that when Sainz doen more wheel to wheel racing, he just won’t look as good as he has this year. In 2017 and even last year, he was pretty clumsy a lot of the time. One year he caused more retirements than any other driver.

      I think Hulkenberg only looked good this year initially because he was beating Ricciardo. But this was because Ricciardo had an awful start. As odd as it seems, I think Ricciardo and Hulkenberg possibly had one some of the worst starts to the season of any driver. Ricciardo is now looking very good again, and I think Hulkenberg has looked just OK most of the season. But his pace in Baku was terrible (what seems to be an awful track for him) and it was a pretty poor mistake in Germany too. His incident was certainly avoidable. He didn’t lift off when he went off track and had a long way to save it before the wall. Yes he wouldn’t be able to steer because of the water, but he didn’t fully lift off. Even letting it spin would have slowed it down in time.

      I think Hulkenberg is overall a reasonable driver, but he still hasn’t managed a podium and I can see why Renault may want to try out a new driver. But I think Hulkenberg should still be in one of the other teams. As odd as it is, I’m not sure if Hass should be one of them. If Hass have chosen the line up they have, it very likely will be related to how long the drivers have been there. Grosjean has been there ever since the team has been in F1 and his feedback no matter what people think of it likely will still help. I would question them keeping Magnussen more as I think grosjean has overall been better this year. I get the feeling Williams are going to improve a bit next year so I think they should have replaced Kubica with Hulkenberg. Him vs Russell would be interesting.

  7. Keith flexing his ‘apt picture’ muscles

  8. It’s criminal that a driver of his character doesn’t have a spot when the likes of Grosjean and Stroll are noodling around the circuits without consequence.

  9. Hulk has had his chances, he’s a known quantity now, hes had a good run at it and basically its just not good enough. If he got a Merc or Ferrari seat he would prob be an ok no.2; but other than that there doesnt seem to be any magic. . ……….At least he has that Le Mans win, and the new WEC formula could see him get offers from Peugeot etc and have a good WEC career.

  10. According to Alain Prost (late August), Hulkenberg turned down a 1 yr extension at Renault. No one to “blame” but himself.

  11. It’s rumored that he has struck a deal with ECR in IndyCar for the road and street courses only. If so, he’ll find out like Marcus Ericsson did (who did better on ovals than road courses) that the driver field is very good. I say he’ll end up about 18th – 20th in points at the end of the 2020 season if he joins the series.

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