Nico Hulkenberg says he could “tell there was something going on” behind the scenes at Renault after noticing a “change of dynamic” within the Formula 1 team during the summer break.

Renault announced on Thursday that it has signed Esteban Ocon to partner Daniel Ricciardo for 2020, leaving Hulkenberg without a drive next season after spending three years at Enstone.

Hulkenberg, who is understood to be in contention for a seat at Haas, insists he has “no hard feelings” over Renault’s decision and does not think the situation could have been handled better.

“I had hints a couple of weeks through the summer break anyway,” Hulkenberg said. “It was actually a bit different, there was a change of dynamic the week after Hungary.

“So, I could tell that there was something going on and that there might be a change ahead but it was early this week that I found out.

“To be honest I think that was all good. The team and the management was always transparent, fair and open.

“We have a good relationship. I don’t think it was necessary for us to have games - there were no games, it was always a straightforward communication, so there are no hard feelings on that side.”

Hulkenberg rejected the notion that the final decision was influenced by any excessive contract demands or expectations from his side.

“I think we were more or less in agreement,” he explained. “Different drivers at different stages of their careers, there are different commercial things, and there is the nationality factor in here, and some over factors like the state of their career.

“So I think it’s about a bunch of things. Then again, just the difficult season we are facing probably tips it over the edge a bit.

“But I feel OK to be honest. Of course I was disappointed when I got the news but I had some time to digest it and like I said, it was a fair and good progress.

“I see the team’s point and I accept that decision, if I agree with it that’s a different matter. But that’s just racing and life.

“I can understand the situation and therefore it’s not too hard to deal with it. I feel comfortable in my skin and I know that there is appetite from other teams, so I feel OK.

“Nine races to go with Renault and I want to score as much as I can and leave the team with a strong finish to the season.”

Asked if his outspoken nature about Renault's lack of progress had been a factor, Hulkenberg replied: “I think things are connected aren’t they?

“I’ve been here three years now, ‘17 was good progress, ‘18 was still good and this year we’ve had a very tough year.

“Of course with the difficult year we are having, there is probably some wish for change, or something has to give, and obviously it contributes to that and probably leads to this decision.

“It’s a pity we can’t continue, particularly as this year we wanted to make a step forward but couldn’t really get it yet. That’s that. The situation is what it is.”



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