'I can't watch Red Bull without crying', jokes Hulkenberg

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Nico Hulkenberg admitted that it was difficult to watch Red Bull Racing this season after coming so close to joining the team for the 2021 season.

Hulkenberg lost his full time race seat with Renault at the end of 2019, but made three appearances last season for Racing Point when drivers Sergio Perez and later Lance Stroll fell ill with coronavirus.

After performing well in his 'supersub' role, Hulkenberg attracted interested from several teams on the grid for this year including Red Bull, only to then ultimately miss out in the game of musical chairs.

"I better not watch Red Bull, because then I will cry", he told Ziggo Sport's Formula 1 Cafe show this week, as reported by Dutch news site Racingnews365.com.

Hulkenberg revealed that he had been in the running to take over from Alex Albon. However the seat went instead to Perez, after the Mexican scored a maiden win in Sakhir to cap a strong finish to the season despite being dropped by Racing Point (now Aston Martin) for 2021.

"I don't think about it. I've been in talks with the team throughout the second half of last year," he said. "The last few races - that period when Perez started to do really well, that victory in Bahrain - then it was over."

Hulkenberg will still be present around the paddock having signed a deal to act as reserve driver for Aston Martin and also for Mercedes.

"I'm more of the test driver for Aston Martin," he said. "Mercedes is only a small job, for a few races.

"Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries also drive in Formula E and the WEC, so they are not available a few times a year. For those races I'm the man if something happens."

Hulkenberg might still be in with a shot of a return to the F1 grid if Sebastian Vettel's stuttering form doesn't improve over the course of the season and the four time champion decided to call it a day.

But Hulkenberg says his compatriot isn't done yet, and backed Vettel to bounce back.

"He will finish the season there, I think," he said. "There is still something to come. It takes a while, he doesn't feel completely comfortable yet. You can see that on the stopwatch. But yes, it is not my decision."

Beyond that, there seem few options left for Hulkenberg who might have to acknowledge that his time in F1 is over with 179 Grand Prix appearances, and notably no podium finishes in his 11 seasons in the sport.

"If it doesn't happen for me in F1 then of course I have to see what I want to do [elsewhere],: he acknowledged.

"The racing is still in me, I miss it, so I have to look at other things. I want to be sitting in a seat again for years."

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