Carlos Sainz Jr. feels Nico Hülkenberg’s future within Formula 1 would not be as uncertain as it is if it was all about ‘speed and talent’, with the German looking increasingly likely to drop off the grid for 2020.
Hülkenberg will leave the Renault F1 Team at the end of 2019 after three seasons with the Enstone-based outfit, with Mercedes-Benz protégé Esteban Ocon coming into replace him alongside Daniel Ricciardo, while talks with the Haas F1 Team about replacing Romain Grosjean came to nothing.
Sainz, who partnered Hülkenberg at Renault during the 2018 season before leaving to join the McLaren F1 Team for the current campaign, feels Hülkenberg is as deserving as anyone else for a seat on the grid, with the German possessing a lot of speed and talent.
However, the Spaniard admits in the cut-throat modern world of Formula 1, having the speed and talent is not a guarantee that a seat will be available to his former team-mate, which he feels is a shame for the German.
“I think everyone knows what Nico brings to the grid, I don’t think I need to explain myself much,” said Sainz to Motorsport.com. “But, as we know, in Formula 1, it’s not always the talent or what you’re capable of doing on track that is predominant.
“There’s a lot of things that can be taken into account, other than your talent and how quick you are. If it was speed and talent, he should be on the F1 grid until whenever he wants.”
Sainz has endured moments during his career where his future was uncertain, but unlike Hülkenberg, he has always had options, for example the chance with Renault came as he brought an end to his time with Scuderia Toro Rosso.
“I never felt my career in risk in Formula 1 honestly,” admitted Sainz. “Every year that I’ve been with an uncertain future, I was pretty much sure that I was going to get the drive because I was negotiating with other teams.
“It’s not nice, I think it’s always better for an athlete to be focused on whatever your job is that weekend and [not] look around in the paddock elsewhere.
“I think the performance is always better as a driver, athlete, if you focus on the race then be focusing on something else.”