Red Bull considers replacing Gasly with Hulkenberg in 2020 

It is quite obvious that French driver Pierre Gasly is not currently meeting the expectations that Red Bull placed on him at the beginning of the season.

The Austrian team has not lost all faith in the Frenchman just yet. But in case it doesn’t work out between them, they are already considering a possible substitute for 2020, namely Nico HulkenbergThe German is currently racing for Renault, a historical rival of the Milton Kean’s team.

Gasly under scrutiny for his poor performance

The driver from Normandy, who had his F1 debut in 2018 with Toro Rosso, is finding it difficult to get comfortable with the RB15 this season. His performance has not been up to scratch right from the pre-season testing. It is as if the blue car was too much for him.

He nonetheless seemed to have improved slightly since the beginning of the year, finishing in sixth and fifth positions in the last two races in Spain and Monaco. In any case, he is still miles away from his partner Max Verstappen. 

Gasly is currently sixth in the standings with 32 points whereas the Dutchman is fourth with 76. Things must be worrying enough for Helmut Marko, head of Red Bull, to line-up a possible alternative to the driver from Ruen for 2020.

Nico Hulkenberg, a solid candidate

The driver most likely to profit from a hypothetical departure from Gasly would be Nico Hulkenberg, one of the few reliable drivers in the grid with a contract finishing in 2019.

Since his arrival at Renault in 2017, the German driver has been one of the team’s key assets but, despite the prominent role he plays in his the Scuderia, he might well consider a change of scenery.

The 2019 Renault car has been a disappointment on the track and it might be a good time to quit a project that seems, if not in decline, at least stagnant. Renault’s beginning of season aspirations of a third place, a position currently occupied by Red Bull, sound today like a bad joke.

The culprit seems to be the above-mentioned RS17, whose poor performance has dragged both Renault’s drivers to the bottom of the standings. Nico Hulkenberg is fifteenth with six points at the moment, two less than his teammate Daniel Ricciardo,  in thirteenth position.

On top of the mechanical issues, the dubious team strategies are eroding the trust of both the German and the Aussi drivers. In Monaco, for instance, Renault’s lack of foresight had the Australian driver coming out of his pit stop in the middle of a melee of cars which had him fall from fifth to the bottom.

To dampen the spirits even further, the French team has sort of recognised that no major improvements will be made before the forecasted regulatory changes of 2021. Until then, they will continue their efforts to improve but no major breakthrough could be expected.

These gloomy forecasts have raised questions about the Scuderia’s very future in the F1. We mustn’t forget that Renault’s original plans on their return to the F1 were to be world champions by 2021.

Under the circumstances, no one would blame Nico Hulkenberg for changing his mind. At 31 years of age, landing a spot in Red Bull would be a unique opportunity to show what he’s got to give. Furthermore, together with Max Verstappen, they would make one of the most powerful teams in Formula 1.

The war between Red Bull and Renault

Sporting matters aside, this hypothetical move would signify a blow form the Austrian team to the French one. The already deep animosity between both Scuderias intensified after the withdrawal of Renault as Red Bull’s engine supplier, and particularly, with Ricciardo’s move to the Enstone team.

Unaware of the move until the last hour, the team from Milton Keynes were perplexed as they watched their rival team steal their most valuable asset. It was payback time for the French who had previously been denied Carlos Sainz permanent stay by the Austrian team.

Morover, who overall’s aim is to eventually weaken their opponents so much as to dethrone them from their third place in the Constructors’ Championship.

The time for revenge could have now arrived for the team headed by Christian Horner by ‘stealing’ one of the most solid and experienced drivers on the grid.

Images:  Renault & Red Bull.

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