Renault: Seeing Hulkenberg leave F1 would be 'difficult'

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Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul admits seeing Nico Hulkenberg fail to secure a 2020 Formula 1 seat would be "difficult".

The French manufacturer opted to drop the German after three years and take on Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon alongside Daniel Ricciardo for next year.

Following Haas' decision to keep Romain Grosjean too, that means Hulkenberg is only left with Alfa Romeo as a realistic option but even then, Ferrari could have a crucial say in the future of Antonio Giovinazzi.

“It would be difficult. I think I’ve said it on a number of occasions, we feel Nico has been a pillar in the team’s construction,” Abiteboul told in Singapore.

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“He’s obviously also a great driver. He’s a huge professional outside of the track, has got huge experience.

“For me, whether it’s between Renault and Nico, or Formula 1 and Nico, it will be unfinished business," he added, pointing to how the 32-year-old has never had a car to match his potential.

“So, I can’t do anything, but [I’m] really hoping he will find a way forward, but it’s a bit out of our hands now.”

The most unlikely option for Hulkenberg was Red Bull's seat alongside Max Verstappen and sure enough this weekend, team boss Christian Horner ruled him out.

He did though pay tribute to the 10-year veteran of the grid.

“He’s a great driver and it would be a great shame not to see him continue in Formula 1 next year,” Horner said.

“I very much hope for him that he does find a seat, because he’s better than some other drivers that are on the grid and he should be in Formula 1.”