Nico Hulkenberg clause delaying Renault deal as Mercedes sweat on Esteban Ocon decision

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Nico Hulkenberg’s contract clause is delaying Renault’s move for Esteban Ocon, according to reports.

German publication Auto Bild this week revealed Renault had opened negotiations with Mercedes over signing Ocon on loan for next season.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has apparently decided to stick with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for the 2020 campaign.

But they cannot send Ocon to Renault until they have found a home for Hulkenberg.

According to French outlet RMC Sport, Hulkenberg has a one-year contract extension clause which could be activated over the coming weeks.

That means Renault will have to find the German a drive elsewhere before they can restructure their team.

RMC Sport claim Renault are keen to replace Hulkenberg with Ocon to reduce their costs after making Daniel Ricciardo one of the highest paid drivers on the grid.

And team principal Cyril Abiteboul revealed Hulkenberg’s clause in a recent interview.

“We have a two-year contract with Daniel,” Abiteboul said.

“Nico’s contract, the initial term is coming to an end at the end of this year but there is some mechanism of options as has been commented on press which I’m not going to disclose in the details that can kick in, so it’s maybe that we continue our journey with Nico.

“Frankly, Nico has delivered for the team, clearly, and if you look at where we were when, Fred [Vassuer] actually was leading that process for us… Nico joined us and where we are today, it’s crazy and the change to the team, to the buzz, and clearly the drivers are no stranger to that, it’s not just engineers.

“So I think we need to give credit to that but also we need to look at the options, like everyone is doing, like I’m sure Nico is doing.

“So, it’s a long answer to tell you that things are open for him and for us but there is also an option in place so that we can possibly continue our journey together.

“We will see, we’ll see probably after the summer break will be the right time to sit down, discuss it on the basis of fact and desire also.”

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