Nico Hulkenberg has revealed that he held talks with Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko earlier this year, but suggested that he will not find himself alongside Max Verstappen in 2020.
Hulkenberg is F1's most high-profile free agent after losing his Renault seat to Esteban Ocon for next year.
Talks with Haas were cut short tis week when the American team confirmed that they would stick with Romain Grosjean for 2020, narrowing Hulkenberg's options considerably.
Only Verstappen is confirmed across Red Bull's four seats in the senior team and Toro Rosso for next year, and Hulkenberg had been mentioned as a candidate to patner the Dutchman amid Pierre Gasly's struggles earlier this year.
However, Alexander Albon has made a positive start to life n the top team and Christian Horner has spoken of his desire to stick to Red Bull's philosophy of promoting from within, likely denying Hulkenberg a shot at a seat he says he would relish taking on.
"I talked to the doctor [Marko] all through August," he said. "At some point he said 'Do not call me anymore'.
"I couldn't say no to that car, so I guess you'd have to take it.
"It would be obviously a big challenge as we know Max is a killer and he's one of the fastest."
According to German media, Hulkenberg could yet find a spot at Alfa Romeo for next year, with Antonio Giovinazzi struggling to match Kimi Raikkonen's performance.
Also boosting Hulkenberg's chances is the presence of Fred Vasseur as team principal, the Frenchman led Hulkenberg to junior titles as boss of ART.
"I do not have to talk to Nico. There is no one who knows him better than me," Vasseur said.
"He was champion in Formula 3 and Formula 2 on my team, so I brought him to Renault in 2017 as well."
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