Nico Hulkenberg’s failure to land a seat for 2020 would be proof of how “sad” Formula 1’s driver market has become, says his former team-mate Sergio Perez.
Outgoing Renault driver Hulkenberg is fighting to keep his place on the grid after the team elected to replace him with Esteban Ocon for the 2020 season.
Options elsewhere appear very limited, especially as Hulkenberg does not bring significant sponsorship backing.
Perez, who partnered Hulkenberg at Force India from 2014-16, said the German’s plight reflected poorly on F1.
Asked by Autosport about how he would feel if Hulkenberg failed to stay on the grid, Perez said: “I would be very sad, because it just shows how sad Formula 1 is, that talent in the end, or results, don’t count enough in the sport.
“There are so many other factors, politically, and so many other factors out of the hands of the athlete or the sportsman. It should be his decision, whether he wants to continue or not.”
Perez said the situation is especially frustrating because Hulkenberg has performed at the same level as his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo – a seven-time grand prix winner – this season.
“We all know the level of Nico,” he said.
“So I think it should be up to him to decide whether he carries on or not, because he is one of the best out there.”
Hulkenberg’s best hope of a seat rests with Alfa Romeo, but the decision on which driver partners Kimi Raikkonen rests on whether Ferrari wishes to continue with Antonio Giovinazzi and commit him to the seat it controls at its customer squad.