Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul says it would be “difficult” to see Nico Hulkenberg lose his place on the grid for the 2020 season, believing there is “unfinished business” for the German driver in F1.

Hulkenberg lost his drive with Renault for next year after the team opted to sign Esteban Ocon as Daniel Ricciardo’s teammate on a multi-year deal.

Hulkenberg is running low on options to remain on the grid for next year after Haas opted to re-sign Romain Grosjean, leaving Alfa Romeo and Williams as his only viable landing spots.

Abiteboul conceded there would be some misgivings for Renault if its decision to axe Hulkenberg ultimately led to his departure from F1.

“It would be difficult. I think I’ve said it on a number of occasions, we feel Nico has been a pillar in the team’s construction,” Abiteboul said.

“He’s obviously also a great driver. He’s a huge professional outside of the track, has got huge experience.

“For me, whether it’s between Renault and Nico, or Formula 1 and Nico, it will be unfinished business.

“So, I can’t do anything, but [I’m] really hoping he will find a way forward, but it’s a bit out of our hands now.”

Abiteboul’s thoughts were echoed by Red Bull chief Christian Horner, who, despite ruling Hulkenberg out of contention for a seat with the team for 2020, was hopeful he would land somewhere.

“He’s a great driver and it would be a great shame not to see him continue in Formula 1 next year,” Horner said.

“He’s a professional driver that arguably hasn’t achieved his potential in Formula 1, and I very much hope for him that he does find a seat.

“Because he’s better than some other drivers that are on the grid and he should be in Formula 1.”