Nico Hulkenberg is racing against time to secure a seat in F1 with Red Bull Racing saying no, while Alfa Romeo Racing and Williams are undecided.
With Hulkenberg out of Renault in favour of Esteban Ocon for 2020, his chances of securing a F1 drive is getting slimmer day by day. The Singapore GP paddock mostly talked about the German after Haas’ announcement.
The team opted to retain Romain Grosjean for 2020 after the talks fell through. His only chance lay with Alfa Romeo as he told on Thursday but with Robert Kubica pulling out, it opened up a Williams option.
But both Alfa Romeo and Williams sounded otherwise, especially the former with Frederic Vasseur talking mostly about Antonio Giovinazzi. On the other hand, Williams are yet to connect as per Claire Williams.
In addition, Red Bull were in the hat as well but it was never a chance even though there were speculations. “Nico isn’t on our list,” said Christian Honrer. “He’s a great driver, and it would be a great shame not to see him continue in F1 next year.
“He’s a professional driver that arguably hasn’t achieved his potential in F1, and I very much hope for him that he does find a seat because he’s better than some other drivers that are on the grid and he should be in F1.”
It looks like Red Bull has its options sorted as Horner stated that they are in no rush to conclude their driver line-up just yet. “We don’t need to be in any rush. All the drivers that are under consideration are under contract, so we’re in a unique position where we don’t need to rush anything.
“So, we’ll take the fullness of time to look and evaluate the progress of Alex and measure it against Dany and Pierre.” It is a similar situation at Alfa Romeo even though Hulkenberg mentioned the Swiss-Italian outfit.
“We are focused on Antonio,” said Vasseur. “Antonio had a very tough weekend in Spa but a strong recovery the week after in Monza. We want to help him to develop and continue to improve.
“It will be time to discuss about the future, but I am really focused on Antonio, that I think he is doing, step-by-step, a good job.” All eyes then turned to Williams but there is not rush for them either.
“Our plans at the moment are under consideration says we have got some candidates on our mind whom we are talking to and we are taking our time to deliberate on that to make the right decision for 2020,” said Williams to media including FormulaRapida.net.
“It’s not an easy situation we are in at the moment when it comes to the second seat after all the considerations, but that’s not to say that we are going to potentially make a driver work that doesn’t come with the backing.
“We do have options, but we haven’t had any conversations with Nico.” With Hulkenberg having a history with Williams, the team’s chief didn’t feel it would play any role in decision making.
“[Any issues if] was before my tenure, so I’m not aware,” she said. “Someone of Nico’s competence and capability is always going to appeal to the team.” The toss-up for Williams will be Nicholas Latifi’s presence.
The Canadian has done well as a reserve and is set to finish in the Top 3 in F2. Although it will bring back the question of inexperience but Williams had good words for Latifi, who could partner George Russell.
“Nicholas is a similar personality to George,” she said. “He rolls up his sleeve and does the job we ask him to do. He is very likeable, and outside the car, he gets along with everyone in the team.
“Obviously, this is an advantage that he knows the team well, but he has some rounds still left in F2, and he still needs to get his super licence points up to be able to consider him for 2020.”
The story was written by Venkatesh P Koushik and edited by Darshan Chokhani