Nico Hulkenberg about the new Renault car and his new team in Formula 1.
What attracted you to Renault Sport Formula One Team?
It’s a new and fantastic opportunity for me. Going to a manufacturer team is something I’ve always wanted and it’s with a team that has been at the top in the past and is fighting its way back there. It’s a great opportunity for me as I want to be challenging for world championships and victories. Renault returned last year as a manufacturer team and share the same ambitions as me, so it’s a great opportunity on both sides.
How has the introduction to the team been?
It’s early days of course, but so far so good! I’ve seen around the factories at Enstone and Viry, I have a very good impression of both sites and the people working there. It’s definitely a good line-up of people and you can feel the passion to succeed; there’s a good vibe with highly motivated individuals. There’s a lot of change occurring at the Enstone site and this illustrates the scope of the expansion. It’s great and it’s very encouraging to be part of this.
How are you approaching the long term project?
I’m very happy to be part of it. There’s a lot of work ahead and we’re both looking for a positive long term relationship. For sure 2017 comes after a build-up year in 2016 where there was improvement and crucially growth in many areas for the future. The target is to move forward in the midfield over the season ahead and be in shape to take another step forward in 2018. I am inspired with being part of this and adding my share to push us all to better performances.
Your new team is your fourth in Formula 1; what benefit can your experience bring to the equation?
I’m bringing everything I’ve got! My passion, my experience, my hunger for success. At the end of the day, it’s a team effort and everyone is important, but ultimately the two drivers have to deliver on the track. I know the goals the team has for the season and I’m taking everything step by step to make the most of the opportunity for us all to achieve good things. I will do everything I can to ensure success happens.
You’ve said having a new team is like having a new girlfriend?
Indeed! We’re both growing together and that’s the exciting aspect of this new relationship. We’re learning from each other and developing together so this is satisfying. My first race weekend with the team will be a milestone, and there’s a lot to learn. It’s new people, different structures, different operations. For sure there will be a steep learning curve at the first couple of races. It’s a challenging time to change as the impact of the rule changes is a bit of an unknown, so there’s a learning process there for all too. There’s also great potential for us with these rule changes and I hope this helps us to take a step forward in competitiveness. It’s really difficult to judge where we could be ahead of the season start. Everything I’ve seen so far has been very positive; I’ve had some great dates so far!
What do you think of the R.S.17?
It looks sexy! When I first saw it in the wind tunnel I was impressed.
What do you want from the R.S.17?
It’s all about having a strong package, as you need a car that is a good all-rounder to perform well across the season. It needs to work well on all the different track types we visit with all the different types of tyres. It needs to work on all the different corner speeds and have strong handling with a good balance so you can work in harmony with the car, a having stable rear end is also particularly crucial. That’s what I’m looking for.
How much tougher physically do you expect the 2017 car to be and what have you done in preparation for this?
I’ve been working out a lot. My preparations started early with a training camp in December and this continued through January and February. Lap times are going down and downforce is up so I’m training very hard to be fully prepared for this when I get out on track.
What are your personal targets and objectives for 2017?
I haven’t set a number. I know the team’s targets and I will do everything I can to help them achieve this. Obviously, I want to achieve the best result possible at every Grand Prix.
Are you looking forward to working with Jolyon [Palmer]?
I think we will have a good relationship. I don’t know him very well yet, but that’s certainly going to change over the next months! I’m sure we’ll work positively in the interests of the team and to push each other hard. I’m looking forward to it.
— Nico Hülkenberg (@HulkHulkenberg) 10 February 2017