With Red Bull dropping some contract bombshells ahead of the 2020 season, just one seat remains on the grid for the 2020 F1 season – but there is no such race for the drive.
With F2 driver Nicholas Latifi all but certain to replace the exiting Robert Kubica at Williams, Nico Hulkenberg’s F1 career is now all but over.
On Tuesday, it was confirmed rookie Alex Albon will partner Max Verstappen at Red Bull, with Toro Rosso announcing an unchanged driver line-up of Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat.
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When Renault confirmed Esteban Ocon would replace Hulkenberg from 2020 on a multi-year deal, it became clear Hulkenberg’s options were slim, with the remaining options not what he wanted.
One by one, the seats were filled, with the Red Bull announcements coming after Alfa Romeo – the formally-named Sauber squad, which Hulkenberg drove for in 2013 – re-signed Antonio Giovinazzi.
Latifi is the frontrunner to land the seat alongside George Russell at Williams, and is no stranger to the team, having turned laps in a number of practice outings throughout 2019 as part of his test and development role with the British team.
A volatile silly season may precede the a significant rules change set to shake up the F1 pecking order from 2021, with just two current drivers – Ocon (Renault) and Sergio Perez (Racing Point) – confirmed to have signed deals beyond 2020.
Hulkenberg has already conceded a reserve or development role anywhere was “not an option”.
Latifi will also carry out FP1 running for Williams at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but the team is not expected to make a final announcement until after the season finale.
CONFIRMED 2020 DRIVER LINE-UPS
Lewis Hamilton: End of 2020
Valtteri Bottas: End of 2020
Sebastian Vettel: End of 2020
Charles Leclerc: End of 2020
Max Verstappen: End of 2020
Alex Albon: End of 2020
Esteban Ocon: End of 2021
Daniel Ricciardo: End of 2020
Kevin Magnussen: End of 2020
Romain Grosjean: End of 2020
Carlos Sainz: End of 2020
Lando Norris: End of 2020
Sergio Perez: End of 2022
Lance Stroll: End of 2020
Alfa Romeo Racing
Kimi Raikkonen: End of 2020
Antonio Giovinazzi: End of 2020
Daniil Kvyat: End of 2020
Pierre Gasly: End of 2020
George Russell: End of 2020