Hulkenberg bade farewell to Formula One, at least for now, with a smile of relief on Sunday when he finished 12th for Renault at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old German had known for several months that he was set to lose his seat and admitted it was a curious experience as he drove his final races with the team.
“I’m feeling good,” he said after his 177th Formula One race. “I am kind of relieved that it’s all over.
“You know when everybody keeps talking about it and you keep answering those questions and comments. It’s tense and it’s a strange feeling.”
Hulkenberg’s seat at Renault has gone to Frenchman Esteban Ocon for next season.
The popular German was in F1 for eight years racing with Williams, Force India and Sauber before joining Renault and was widely regarded as one of the finest drivers not to even post a podium finish.
“(I’m) happy that I did a good race and I threw everything at it,” he said. “It’s a shame not to get that point in the end.
“It was a worthy last race for me. Thank you to the team for three years. Not fantastic years, but there were highs and lows. Thank you to them.
“It’s a hell of an environment to grow up in as a young adult. I made some good friends and memories and I will look back at it all with a smile on my face.”