Searching for a Formula 1 drive, Nico Hulkenberg has downplayed calls from pundits to put him in the Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen.
With his team-mate Alexander Albon under-performing, at least it looks that way from the outside, pundits have called for Red Bull to make a change.
With the team seemingly determined not to promote Pierre Gasly, their options – should they decide to replace Albon – will be coming from the outside.
One of those is Hulkenberg.
The German is without a 2021 race seat after being dropped by Renault at the end of last year’s championship.
He, however, showed his class when he filled in for Sergio Perez and then Lance Stroll at Racing Point, scoring in both races that he started.
His latest sub was at Sunday’s Eifel Grand Prix where he raced from 20th on the grid to eighth at the chequered flag.
In sharp contrast to the 33-year-old’s flawless Sunday, Albon had one to forget as he locked up, crashed into Daniil Kvyat and complained about Pierre Gasly’s elbows.
Asked if Red Bull could be an option for next season, Hulkenberg told Sky Germany: “The chance is very small. We know that you will always stand by your Red Bull driver squad. Therefore, it cannot be assumed.”
He has also been linked to Haas with team boss Guenther Steiner making it clear that he wants an all-new line up for next season.
Asked about that rumour, Hulkenberg replied: “Nice team name, but unrealistic.”
As for AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s junior team, he said: “You never know, time will tell.”
One team Hulkenberg won’t be joining is Renault, who have already confirmed Fernando Alonso as Esteban Ocon’s 2021 team-mate.
Team boss Cyril Abiteboul wishes he had another spot for his former driver.
“All I can say: I wish I had a third car,” he said. “He deserves to race in Formula One.”
Racing Point’s Otmar Szafneuer, who has also completed his 2021 line up with Stroll and Sebastian Vettel agrees.
“I don’t decide the cockpits, but he definitely deserves to drive in Formula 1,” he said.