Christian Horner has all but ruled out a chance that Red Bull will sign Renault castaway Nico Hulkenberg for the 2020 Formula 1 season.
The German’s seat at the Renault F1 Team will be taken by Esteban Ocon next year, and switch to the Haas F1 Team has failed to materialise after the American team re-signed Romain Grosjean.
Hulkenberg maintains that he has ‘realistic chances’ of being on the grid again in 2020 but it appears that one of his less likely possibilities has been ruled out.
Red Bull Racing’s line-up for 2020 is uncertain, and therefore likewise for sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso, but the former’s team principal has indicated that they are not looking at Hulkenberg.
“Nico isn’t on our list,” said Horner.
“He’s a great driver and it would be a great shame not to see him continue in Formula 1 next year.
“He’s a professional driver that arguably hasn’t achieved his potential in Formula 1.
“I hope very much for him he does find a seat because he’s better than some other drivers on the grid and he should be in Formula 1.”
While Alexander Albon was promoted to Red Bull and Pierre Gasly went the other way over the summer break, Horner intimated that the second seat in the senior team will be taken by either of those two or Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.
“We don’t need to be in any rush,” explained Horner.
“All the drivers that are under consideration are under contract.
“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 more the progress of Alex, and measure it against Dani and Pierre.”
Only two other seats on the 2020 grid remain unspoken for at present, namely at Williams Racing, where Robert Kubica has opted to leave, and that currently occupied by Antonio Giovinazzi at Alfa Romeo.
Helpfully for Hulkenberg, he won Formula 3 and GP2 titles while driving for current Alfa Romeo Racing boss Frederic Vasseur.
However, Giovinazzi’s berth is the one which Ferrari controls, and Vasseur also moved to defend the underperforming Italian, who was a season-best ninth at his home grand prix last time out.
“So far we are focused with Antonio,” said Vasseur.
“He had an off at Spa but a recovery a week after at Monza.
“We want to help him develop and improve. I am really focused on Antonio, he is doing step-by-step a good job.
“Everybody is under the pressure in the paddock, not only the drivers. We are under pressure, F1 is a world of pressure. We have to deserve (to be here), all of us.
“The speed is there for sure, he’s matched Kimi in qualifying since the first once. Absolutely nothing to complain about with the speed.
“We just want to score more points. So does everybody.”