Whether the German returns to the sport or not, few would argue that more was expected of Hulkenberg, who succeeded Sebastian Vettel as Formula BMW Germany champion and went on to win the 2009 GP2 crown.
After 177 Grands Prix, with Williams, Force India, Sauber and Renault, other than one pole position and two fastest laps, the 32-year-old leaves the sport, even if only temporarily, with one record he would prefer not to hold, that of the driver with the most F1 starts without claiming a podium.
“His contribution has been instrumental in our reconstruction and progression,” said the Frenchman. “We have harnessed his experience and ability to deliver strong results and he has played an important role in Renault‘s Formula 1 journey. We want to ensure we end our time together with the best result possible.”
“It’s been three memorable years,” said Hulkenberg. “There have been highs and lows, but I’ve enjoyed my time as a driver here.
“We’ve had some great results and some ‘nearly’ moments, all of which I’ll remember for a very long time.
“I’d like to thank everyone at the team including my engineers and mechanics for all their effort over the last 61 races. We have one more to go and we’ll be giving it our all for the best possible result.”
With Esteban Ocon stepping into his (still warm) seat for the post-Abu Dhabi test, Hulkenberg, a former Le Mans winner, has yet to announce any plans for 2020 and beyond.