Nico Hulkenberg insists he did not pursue a deal with Haas despite his options to remain on the Formula 1 grid being reduced by Romain Grosjean’s new contract.
In Belgium, Guenther Steiner publicly stated he would be deciding between Grosjean and Hulkenberg to partner Kevin Magnussen in 2020 after the German was dropped by Renault in favor of Esteban Ocon. On Thursday, Haas announced that Grosjean will retain his seat, but Hulkenberg said it was a decision driven in part by his being unable to agree terms with the team.
“Well, I kind of knew it was coming, or could see it coming,” Hulkenberg said. “No (not disappointed), because I didn’t pursue that deal; we didn’t go ahead, we didn’t agree it, we didn’t get together with Haas. So that’s the consequence out of that.
“Haas was definitely an option and we were talking. That’s definitely not a secret. We just didn’t get together on this occasion; we couldn’t agree a deal.”
Although he admitted that Haas did make him an offer, Hulkenberg declined to elaborate. “It was serious,” he said. “But it’s hard for me to go into too much detail. It’s all confidential and sensitive information. Can’t really comment too much.”
Alfa Romeo has yet to confirm who will partner Kimi Raikkonen next season and Hulkenberg says that remains an option for him,. He has a good relationship with its current team principal Frederic Vasseur, whose ASM and ART teams he won championships with in Formula 3 and GP2.
“I think you just see and understand what’s still available. Which seats (are) and which (are) not,” he said. “That’s pretty obvious. Right now I don’t know. I think to a big extent it’s out of my control now, out of my hands. Most important is to drive and to perform. We just need a bit more time. I think there are still possibilities and realistic chance. But at this game you can never be too sure.
“(Vasseur and I) have known each other for many years. He was obviously the guy that brought me here (to Renault) as well, that I did the deal with ultimately, so I guess it doesn’t hurt.”
Williams now has a confirmed vacancy after Robert Kubica announced his decision to leave at the end of the season, but Hulkenberg says he has not been in talks with the team where he started his F1 career.
“Maybe yes, maybe no; to be honest that’s very new news,” he said. “Not sure (if it’s an option) at this point.
“That goes back to when everything with Renault was announced. As much as I want to continue in Formula 1… for me, it needs to make sense — it needs to be the right deal. I’m not desperate to stay in Formula 1 and just take anything. I’m not disregarding or disrespecting Williams. I mean in general, globally, even with Haas. That is the most important for me.
“That proves quite difficult in Formula 1. We know unless you have the right weapon or crazy circumstances, it’s tough. But the dream is still there and the fire. So step by step, first things first, and then we’ll see what happens.”