Hulkenberg: Alfa Romeo seat is no longer in my hands

Alfa Romeo and Williams are emerging as Nico Hulkenberg’s only potential options to remain in Formula 1 next year as Haas shocked the Formula 1 world by announcing they were keeping Romain Grosjean for 2020.

“I was talking to Haas seriously, but for a number of reasons we did not get together,” German Hulkenberg said on Thursday.

Haas boss Gunther Steiner explained: “Yes we were talking with each other, but we never had a fixed agreement on contract details.”

Explaining the decision to keep Grosjean, he added: “We took a step backwards this year and now we have to solve our technical problems.

“With all his strengths and weaknesses, we know Romain, he knows the problems of our car, and a new driver would have been a new unknown,” said Steiner.

He said he hopes Hulkenberg finds another team for 2020, after being dropped by Renault, “I think he has other options. I just informed him that we went the other way.

“Nico is an adult who has been in this business for a long time. I hope he finds a place and we see him next year because he deserves it.”

Some think Hulkenberg is now hoping for a seat at Alfa Romeo, as he admits that his “dream” seat at Red Bull is not realistic.

“I talked to the doctor (Helmut Marko) all through August,” he revealed. “At some point he said ‘Do not call me anymore’. But I could not say no to that car even if Verstappen would obviously be a big challenge.”

Hulkenberg apparently rules out Williams as an option, insisting he is “not desperate” to stay in Formula 1 under any circumstances, “I don’t want that to sound like it’s against Williams. I mean that more generally.

“As much as I would like to continue in Formula 1, it must make sense. After ten years in Formula 1, I really do not want to drive completely at the back.”

And he said options in Formula E are “not exactly exciting”.

In 30-year-old Hulkenberg’s favour for the Alfa Romeo seat is that he knows team boss Frederic Vasseur well.

Vasseur said in Singapore: “I do not have to talk to Nico. There is no one who knows him better than me. He was champion in Formula 3 and Formula 2 on my team, so I brought him to Renault in 2017 as well.”

Hulkenberg agrees: “We have known each other for many years and that certainly does not hurt.”

Alfa Romeo, however, is closely aligned with Ferrari, and Mattia Binotto came out in Singapore in support of Kimi Raikkonen’s current teammate Antonio Giovinazzi.

Hulkenberg said: “To a certain extent, it is no longer in my hands. I know what the structures are there and who makes the decisions.

“I can do no more than get out there and bring in performance. There are still opportunities and a realistic chance, but in this business you can never be sure.”

Big Question: What now for The Hulk?