Renault Sign Hulkenberg On Multi-Year Deal – Well, Good For Him…
Renault has confirmed it has signed Nico Hulkenberg on a multi-year deal starting in 2017.
Speculation over Renault’s driver line-up has been rumbling on for months, but on Friday the French manufacturer confirmed Hulkenberg would be one of its two drivers for 2017. The announcement came after Force India agreed to release Hulkenberg from his current contract following the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
“I’m very happy to join Renault Sport Formula One Team in 2017,” Hulkenberg said. “Renault has always been a big player in the motorsport world that brings up incredible memories: in his stint with Renault, Michael Schumacher not only helped make Germany an F1 nation, he also sparked my enthusiasm and fire for racing. As a part of the Renault family, I want to develop the car and write new success stories.
“It has always been my dream to work for a manufacturer team. F1’s new regulations will change the game and give our team a good opportunity. In the years to come, Renault will play a challenger role, which fits my approach to racing 100%. I can’t wait to become part of the family.
“For the remaining races this year, I will give my best for Force India to reach fourth place in the constructors’ championship. This would be a great achievement for the whole Force India team, the biggest success in its history and a great end to a fantastic time there. “I am grateful that Force India has given me the chance to take up this new opportunity.”
Renault is in the process of rebuilding its Enstone base after buying the Lotus team over the winter. The French manufacturer has outlined a five-year plan for returning to the top and Renault Sport chairman Jérôme Stoll expects Hulkenberg to play a big part in that.
“2017 will be the second season of Groupe Renault’s return as a manufacturer entry in Formula 1 and the next step in our journey. This season has been about putting the foundations in place for future success. For our next step we required an experienced driver who is still hungry for podiums.
“Nico Hülkenberg fulfils this role perfectly and is an excellent complement to what we want to achieve. He is a highly talented, dedicated and motivated driver. Nico will enable us to harness all the hard work completed this season and translate it to improved results on track in 2017 and beyond. We look forward to seeing him in our new car for 2017.”
The identity of Hulkenberg’s teammate for 2017 remains unconfirmed, with Manor’s Esteban Ocon linked to the role as well as current Renault drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it. Oh well I guess you just did now didn’t you? I think this is a great move for the highly rated Nico Hulkenberg. If ever there was a current driver that deserves a winning (or at the very least podium-finishing) car, aside from my man Fernando Alonso, it is the Hulk.
A GP2 champion, he has never really had the equipment to showcase his talent. Then again, unless you have been at the wheel of a Red Bull or Merc it has been the same for every one recently, quite frankly.
While it is true that Force India is on track to have one of its better years if not the best since coming into the sport, it is also true to say that the team will probably not ever break into the top three. The difference between fourth place and third in the constructor championship is like the difference between buying a diamond at Zales and at Tiffany’s.
Just to illustrate this point a bit further, Ferrari, who lies third in the championship is at 335 points. Force India in fourth has collected only 134 points, less than half. And if all goes to plan McLaren will have made yet another big step forward next year so really there will be four big teams and then the rest can fight it out for fifth best just in case you can’t count.
So the writing is on the carbon fiber wall as I like to say, and really the only chance for a driver to win races or a championship is to drive for a truly top team, weather and safety cars notwithstanding.
Renault have a five year plan, they have buckets of cash, have won championships before and are now producing a stout engine which in one more year, maybe two, should be on par with the Merc PU or whichever engine manufacturer is producing the most horses.
Back to Nico, I would not suggest time is running out for him, but he has been in F1 for awhile now and at some point one’s sell-by date creeps up and all of a sudden you’re not being considered for a drive by a top team or even by the back-markers for that matter. The back-marker teams are usually the proving grounds for rookies that are managed by the big teams. Merc has not one but two young drivers that are being groomed for when either Hamilton or Rosberg jump ship. If you’re good, after a few years at a back-marker you should be moving up to one of the top teams, not languishing at the back of the grid.
What pushes that sell by date further back is good qualifying on Saturday and a solid performance on Sunday and the occasional podium doesn’t hurt either, the latter of which I don’t think Hulk has managed ever if my memory is serving me still.
The Hulk needs to show some results and driving for a works team that is presumably on the way up is where you want to be. He’ll hopefully be in the eye of a perfect storm – ambition, desire, and technical know-how, the epicenter of a team that is hungry and has something to prove (again).
I think the change will suit this F1 driver well; Hulkenberg now has experience and can help Renault in the rebuilding process. And who knows, maybe there are race wins and a championship campaign with the Hulk’s name on it right around the corner. It was that way for another driver not too long ago whose timing of that certain storm of ambition and desire by the team was spot on back in 2005/6.