Nico Hulkenberg’s efforts at Renault in 2019 proved not to be enough for the team to re-sign him for 2020. Here are all the facts and statistics from Hulkenberg’s 2019 season!
Did Nico Hulkenberg really deserve to be dropped by Renault in favour of Esteban Ocon? It’s a question which has already been debated and will continue to be so. In 2019, Hulkenberg recorded the equal-lowest championship result of his career with fourteenth place. It was the same position as he finished in his maiden season in 2010, albeit scoring 15 more points this year.
Hulkenberg holds the record for most appearances without a podium, and this was another year of missed opportunities for the German. He was on course for a sixth place finish having started seventeenth in Bahrain, until his car let him down. Another points-scoring opportunity was missed due to a software glitch in China. Plus he very easily could have finished on the podium at his home race, if not for crashing out in the damp conditions.
In the year that Hulkenberg said his future in the sport would depend largely on his performance against new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, Hulkenberg was both out-qualified and out-raced by the Australian, although this was regularly by small margins. His best result this season was fifth place in Italy, a race in which he finished one position behind Ricciardo. After the Monza race, Hulkenberg would go on to score points six times in seven Grands Prix, which would have been seven out of seven, if not for Renault’s disqualification at Suzuka. But by that point, his future at the team had already been decided.
Rumours of a switch to Alfa Romeo or Williams surfaced in the latter half of the year, but Hulkenberg will be without a Formula 1 drive for the 2020 season. Whether 2019 was his F1 swansong after 177 races remains to be seen.
A STATISTIC FROM EVERY GRAND PRIX
Australia: Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh in the 2019 Australian Grand Prix. It was the fourth time he has finished in seventh at the event in the past five seasons.
Bahrain: In qualifying for the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg recorded his first Q1 exit at the Sakhir circuit. It was his first Q1 elimination since the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix, and his worst qualifying position since the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix. After failing to finish on Sunday, the German has now had more point-less visits to Bahrain than any other driver. He also equalled Martin Brundle for the third-most Grands Prix without a victory.
China: Nico Hulkenberg’s retirement at the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix marked the first time a driver starting from eighth on the grid has retired from the event. He also recorded the first DNF for Renault at the track (though the Enstone team had two DNFs in 2014 and 2015 in their Lotus guise).
Azerbaijan: Nico Hulkenberg qualified eighteenth at the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix for the second time in his career, the other time being at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix. He’s only had one qualifying result worse than that. That was at the 2012 Italian Grand Prix, when he failed to set a time after his car stopped on track in the first part of qualifying.
Spain: Tiny margins made a big difference to Nico Hulkenberg’s Saturday at the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix. Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was faster than Hulkenberg by just 0.019 seconds in Q1. While Ricciardo eventually progressed into the top ten, Hulkenberg was eliminated in the first part of qualifying.
Monaco: For the sixth time in nine visits to the Monaco Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg just missed out on a spot in Q3 by qualifying in eleventh position. In the race, he finished only thirteenth – his lowest finishing position at the Circuit de Monaco, aside from his two DNFs.
Canada: Along with his Renault team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg recorded his best qualifying position of the season to date at the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix. Hulkenberg also equalled his best Canadian Grand Prix qualifying performance. It was the third time the German driver has qualified seventh at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
France: After the 2019 French Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen have each gained the same number of positions in both of their races so far at Circuit Paul Ricard. Both gained three places from their grid positions in 2018, while both made up five positions in the 2019 French Grand Prix.
Austria: Nico Hulkenberg recorded the tenth 13th place finish of his F1 career at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix. He equalled Kevin Magnussen as the driver on the 2019 grid with the most thirteenth place finishes.
Britain: While Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh in the 2019 British Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg picked up the final point in tenth place. That therefore ensured Renault recorded a double points finish at Silverstone for the first time since 2007.
Germany: Nico Hulkenberg crashed out of the 2019 German Grand Prix. It was the first time that Hulkenberg has failed to finish at his home race, and only the second time that he failed to score at the event.
Hungary: For a second consecutive season, Nico Hulkenberg was eliminated in Q2 and finished twelfth in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Belgium: At the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg recorded his first top five finish since the 2018 German Grand Prix. As a result, Hulkenberg became the eighteenth driver in Formula 1 history to have scored over 500 career points, with his fifth place finish taking his overall total to 505 points. That means that, at that point, Hulkenberg had scored as many points in his 170-race career as the Mercedes team had scored up to that point in the 2019 season.
Italy: Nico Hulkenberg equalled his best Monza performance at the 2019 Italian Grand Prix, with a fifth place finish. It was the ninth fifth place finish of Hulkenberg’s career, the first since the 2018 German Grand Prix.
Singapore: At the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg equalled his best Marina Bay finish, with ninth place. It was his third time finishing in ninth at the event, after 2013 and 2014.
Russia: After starting sixth at the 2019 Russian Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg lost four positions in the race to finish in tenth place. In the races he’s finished at the track, it was the first time that Hulkenberg has finished in a worse position than where he started.
Japan: Nico Hulkenberg recorded the first race disqualification of his career after both Renault drivers were disqualified from the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix. It was the third year in succession that Hulkenberg has not been classified at Suzuka.
Mexico: For the first time in his career, Nico Hulkenberg failed to qualify in the top ten at the Mexico Grand Prix. He was eliminated in Q2, lining up twelfth on the grid.
United States: After failing to finish the United States Grand Prix for four years in a row between 2014 and 2017, Nico Hulkenberg has now scored at the event in the last two years. It means that, overall, Hulkenberg has now scored on as many occasions at the track as he has retired.
Brazil: For the first time in his career, Nico Hulkenberg was out-qualified at Interlagos at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. With his fifteenth place finish, this was the first time that Hulkenberg has finished outside of the points at the event.
Abu Dhabi: Nico Hulkenberg’s F1 career came to an end with a twelfth place finish at the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, making it his 177th start without a podium. He’s had almost 50 more starts than Adrian Sutil, who is the next driver on that list. Of the 2020 grid, Alex Albon, Antonio Giovinazzi, Lando Norris, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi will be the only drivers who are yet to finish in the top three. Giovinazzi has the most starts from that quintet, with 23, meaning that he’d need to start 154 more races without finishing on the podium to equal Hulkenberg’s record – so Hulkenberg is likely to hold the unwanted record until at least 2025.
Nicky Haldenby is a freelance writer from Scarborough, England. After graduating from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its fourth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations, and sister site GPDestinations, where he shares regular race previews and articles focussed around the latest in Formula 1 calendar and venue news. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky can also be heard regularly as a guest on various Formula 1 radio shows and podcasts.