Nico Hulkeneberg says his upcoming Formula 1 exit doesn’t equate to retirement even if he hasn’t lined up plans for 2020.

With the German driver axed by Renault and replaced by Esteban Ocon from next season, the 32-year-old is set to step away from F1 after a decade in the sport competing for Williams, Force India and Renault.

Reflecting on his F1 career, Hulkenberg admits he made mistakes but looking back is “at peace” with his achievements as he prepares to make his 177th Grand Prix start in Abu Dhabi at the 2019 season finale.

Despite not having firm plans in place for 2020, the 32-year-old doesn’t see the end of his time in F1 as the end of his career.

“Regret, no, but of course I have made mistakes like we all do at times, that I obviously would have liked to avoid, a few moves or things that I would do differently now,” Hulkenberg said. “But that is always easy to say in hindsight.

“So all in all I am at peace with that, with what I have achieved. Just to be clear, I don’t feel like I am retiring. I am not.

“As a race driver I am not really, I don’t feel that I am leaving F1. I might not be on the grid but if there is an opportunity, I am going to be ready.”

Hulkenberg says he wants to spend time out of racing over the winter before reassessing his future options. The German driver had been linked to both Williams and Alfa Romeo but with the Swiss team retaining Antonio Giovinazzi and the British team set to sign Nicholas Latifi his 2020 options dried up as he looked to stay in single-seater racing.

The German driver has also been rumoured with a move to both DTM and IndyCar which he has dismissed as false gossip.

As a result, Hulkenberg looks set for time away form racing before plotting his next career move.

“Sabbatical, I don’t know what you want to call it. A decade in F1 is intense, living at that high pace,” he said. “So that is why I just need to see once the new year starts how I feel, and how things develop and evolve, in which direction.

“Right now I just don’t know, and I don’t want to think about it too much right now because I am still right here right now.”

 

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