Hulkenberg ‘not concerned’ by improving midfield rivals
Nico Hulkenberg says he doesn’t feel Renault’s standing as ‘best of the rest’ is currently under threat from rival midfield teams such as Alfa Romeo and Haas, but knows his team must ‘work for it’ if they are to retain their position in 2019.
Renault had their best season last year since returning to F1 as a full manufacturer team three years ago, and while they accumulated more points than in their previous two seasons combined, that still wasn’t enough for the French manufacturer to consistently challenge F1’s ‘big three’.
Despite rivals such as Racing Point and Alfa Romeo possessing significantly larger budgets this year, Hulkenberg has dismissed suggestions that this could mean bad news for his team in the long run.
“[No, I’m not] concerned. We are aware competition is around and competition is tight. I find it interesting because every year people say 'yeah, the midfield is as tight as ever' but it is always tight,” said Hulkenberg.
“It is always competitive. I’ve pretty much spent my entire career in the midfield so I know about it but, you know, we just need to stay on top of things.
“We need to make sure we come through with the development we expect from us, from a big factory team. For sure, Alfa looks strong, I think Haas looks strong. Racing Point - there are good teams out there that we're also up against.
“That we beat them last year doesn't mean we're naturally now in front of them. We need to work for it and make sure it happens like that.”
After finishing the first week of testing with the quickest time of all, Hulkenberg started week two by putting over 80 laps on the board in the morning session before handing over the reins to new teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the afternoon.
Hulkenberg says he feels now after having spent a week with the new car that Renault have made progress over the winter, especially with the powertrain, and he added that his and Ricciardo’s feedback to the team so far has been similar.
“I can say that we have made good progress [with the power unit]. The comparison to last year is not very fair [but I do] feel that with more drag on the car there is more power, so I feel we have made good progress in that area,” said Hulkenberg.
“I would say [mine and Ricciardo’s feedback] has been pretty similar. I think we have the same view, the same feeling about the car, and, more importantly, we're looking for the same thing from the car, which is good.
“It can be confusing if one driver tells you left and one driver tells you right [but] it seems like we're on the same page there.”
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