Nico Hulkenburg is one of the most popular drivers not to have a seat in the 2021 F1 season. After a 10-year stint in the sport, the fact that he never once finished on the podium meant that his team lost patience in him eventually.
He was not offered a new contract at the end of the 2019 season. While there was a chance that he would be offered the Red Bull seat for 2021 following Alex Albon’s struggles in the previous seat, Sergio Perez was finally awarded the spot.
Acting as a super-sub in the 2020 campaign, Hulkenberg was very impressive and it led to a lot of interest from midfield teams. However, nothing really materialised and the German is still without a contract.
Hulkenberg spoke about the prospect of joining Red Bull for 2021, saying that he would have taken the job without a doubt.
“Of course I would have liked to have driven for Red Bull, let’s not doubt that. But that is not the case now. Ultimately, it is their (Red Bull’s) decision,” he said.
However, for him, it had to be one of the first two seats and he didn’t want to feature for the team as a reserve.
“That was never an option. At the end of the year it was more about the ‘head office’ (a racing seat), but that went to Checo as everyone knows.
“Red Bull was quick to agree that Albon would become a reserve driver so I was approached by other teams.”
Hulkenberg is not ready to call time on his career just yet though. He believes there is still a place for him in the sport.
“It is important for me to stay in and around Formula 1 and to grab an opportunity when it comes along.
“With an oblique eye I also look to 2022. Whatever is about to happen, maybe I have a better chance of a comeback?”
It may be in his best interest to try his luck in some other racing series till this opportunity comes. Even someone of the pedigree of Fernando Alonso found that option fruitful and he did eventually make a return to the sport.
Hulkenberg will have a keen eye on how Williams and Alfa Romeo perform, given that those two teams possibly offer the best chance for him in 2022.
While George Russell of Williams F1 is a prospect at Mercedes, Kimi Raikonnen of Alfa Romeo may choose to call time on his career. These offer possibly the best options for Hulkenberg.