Nico Hulkenberg insists he never considered putting his name forward to fill the Mercedes seat vacated by fellow countryman Nico Rosberg, saying he was already in love with "new girlfriend" Renault.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is believed to have phoned Renault shortly after being told about Rosberg's decision to enquire about whether the team would be willing to release Hulkenberg from his newly-signed contract. The answer was no and Mercedes has since closed in on Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, who is expected to be announced as the team's new driver in the coming weeks.
Hulkenberg has said his move from Force India to Renault feels like getting a new girlfriend after a new marriage and he continued that assessment when asked about whether a Silver Arrows drive ever crossed his mind.
"Given the situation as it was at that very moment, there was no thought of a switch in any way or form," Hulkenberg told the F1 website. "I was already in love with my new 'girlfriend' Renault.
"For sure it is a pity that Nico will not be back to defend his title. But I am also sure he knew what he was doing. For me -- always the pragmatic person that I am -- it will mean no more lifts to grands prix in his plane: that really sucks..."
Hulkenberg was convinced to sign for Renault by Frederic Vasseur after being impressed by the team's long-term vision for getting back to the front of the grid in the next few seasons. However, this week Vasseur and Renault mutually parted ways due to his frustration with senior management lacking a coherent vision for the future direction the team should take.