Look-back: ‘The Hülk’ and Renault

Entering 2020, the Renault F1 team is for the first time since the start of 2017 without Nico Hülkenberg – now replaced by rising French star Esteban Ocon.
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Hülkenberg’s contribution to Renault’s results in his three years with the Anglo-French squad were impressive:

  • In 2017 he scored 75% of Renault’s tally of 57 points – six times more than it managed in 2016 as it suddenly leapt from ninth to sixth in the constructors’ standings
  • In 2018 he amassed 69 of the team’s 122 points as it improved further to fourth in the constructors’ championship
  • Nico also finished 2018 seventh in the drivers’ championship – the highest finishing position in his F1 career
  • 27 points scoring results (top ten finishes) in 61 grands prix with a best result of P5 x2 (Germany 2018 & Italy 2019)

Following 2019’s final round in December, key members of the Renault team shared their thoughts on the German.

Sporting Director, Alan Permane: “His feedback is exceptional as he strips the emotion away; even after a bad race he is able to deliver measured, constructive debriefs. His technical insight has been extremely important for us…

“I can remember one time in Silverstone in 2017 when he had been telling us about a particular handling characteristic of the R.S.17 – he wanted to carry more speed into the corners and felt the downforce was dropping off just where he needed it most. We developed a new floor to help with this and finally got one in time for the British Grand Prix.

“He didn’t say anything for a while on the radio and then finally keyed up. He said: ‘I haven’t said anything but if you could see my face, you’d see there was a massive smile on it!’ It kind of sums him up: when he’s got something to say, it’s always worth listening.”

Nico’s Race Engineer, Mark Slade: “When Nico joined us for 2017 he took us to another level. Almost overnight we were back on the map and operating like a big team again. When you have someone you know can deliver, it’s like a form of subconscious motivation.

“We’ve had some great races together, but the history books won’t do justice to them. It’s been a pleasure to work with him. I would say he’s in the top drawer of racing drivers I’ve worked with in my career. He’s felt part of the team and really invested in our development and that’s been a good feeling.”

Team Principal, Cyril Abiteboul: “It is clear that Nico has been instrumental in our progress through F1. We needed a driver who had the experience and maturity to help us take the next step and we couldn’t have asked any more of him. It wasn’t an easy decision as he has many strong attributes: he’s a great driver, always motivated and looking and pushing for more, which has, in turn, spurred us on.

“We wish him luck for the future and sincerely thank him for his huge contribution to Renault F1 Team over the past three years.”