Hulkenberg: Finally a more exciting Thursday ahead

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg is expecting an exciting day at Spa-Francorchamps, but the German was not talking about Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Instead, he joked on social media about the mounting Silly Season rumours about the make-up of the 2020 grid.

On the cover of its latest magazine edition, Auto Hebdo announced Esteban Ocon’s return to the grid next year by publishing a photo of the current Mercedes reserve in Renault team gear.

It is believed that 22-year-old Ocon will replace Hulkenberg after Mercedes reportedly decided over the summer break to keep Valtteri Bottas for another year.

Just a month ago, Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul hinted at Hulkenberg’s departure by telling Auto Hebdo that the German too often “sabotages himself” at key moments.

As the caption to a photo of the Auto Hebdo cover starring Ocon in his yellow overalls, Hulkenberg wrote on Instagram yesterday: “Finally a more exciting Thursday ahead.”

If Hulkenberg is ousted, it is expected that he will replace Romain Grosjean at Haas. Frenchman Grosjean could then leave Formula 1 and enter Formula E, where he reportedly has already received an offer for 2020.

“We always emphasised that we will think about the drivers for next season during the summer break at the earliest,” Haas team boss Gunther Steiner said recently.

“Esteban Ocon is a very good driver, but we are not interested in having a driver for just one year. We will look at all the options in peace. Nico Hulkenberg is an interesting option for us,” he added.

Renault and Mercedes did not comment.

Wolff: Ocon is going to be in good car in 2020