Nico Hulkenberg has dismissed a report linking him with a possible switch to Red Bull for 2020 as “fake news”, saying the story was “made up”.

Following a difficult start to the season for Pierre Gasly that has seen him struggle to match Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen for pace, a report emerged in Italy suggesting team advisor Helmut Marko had sounded out Renault’s Hulkenberg as a possible replacement.

Marko was quick to dismiss the rumour as “nonsense”, with Gasly saying in Montreal that he had no desire to waste time on a “bullshit” story that was “bad journalism”.

Hulkenberg was also quick to brush off the report when asked about it on Thursday.

“I think I heard it came from the Italian side,” Hulkenberg said.

“It was made up. It’s basically fake news.”

Asked by Crash.net how it felt to be linked to a front-running team, Hulkenberg joked that it “felt great for my ego”.

“Not really. It didn’t do anything to me. My confidence level is OK, even without it.”

Hulkenberg heads into this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix looking to end a five-race run without points, with his last run-out in Monaco being compromised by a clash with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and a mistimed Safety Car, leaving him 13th.

“I didn’t feel there was much I could do about it, just from the moment when Charles sliced my tyre open, that was the race basically over for me,” Hulkenberg said.

“We pitted, the others gained a stop under the Safety Car. It just all went wrong basically in that moment, and there’s not much in my control from there.

“We will bounce back. I’m feeling fairly strong. The record here, I like this place and this track, and I feel our package is definitely competitive for fourth-best team.

“I think we know what to do this weekend with both cars.”

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli.

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