Nico Hulkenberg says the success of its recent update package marks an ‘important’ breakthrough for Renault in its bid to challenge Formula 1’s top outfits.
Recent developments, including a new floor that first arrived at the British Grand Prix, have helped propel Renault to near the front of the midfield battle in pace terms – even if it is still eighth in the constructors’ championship.
But with the team having pinned a lot of hopes in the upgrades working, the fact there has been a pace improvement proves that its factory/track correlation is working, which will give it confidence in work now going on back at base.
“It is important. It is encouraging. It is everything,” said Hulkenberg, when asked how significant it was that the team’s major update had been such a success.
“I’ve had that for many years as well: promise, promise, bring the update and it actually didn’t do anything. We tried to extract something and it was never there.
“Then I’ve had the last two years at Force India – it was always working as promised and a big step forward. Again now this year it seems the same.
“It has to be like this if you want to play with the big players, if you want to make big progress. It is important also that the correlation is there, between CFD, wind tunnel and track, that it all works together. That is vital to clear developments.”
Hulkenberg hopes that the fact the work has paid off means that Renault’s staff will be able to get some momentum behind a bigger push over the second half of the campaign.
“Of course you gain momentum if you have good performance,” he said. “Naturally it supplies momentum and good vibes and positive feelings.”
Although Hulkenberg accepts that Renault’s power could make things more of a struggle at the next tracks in Belgium and Italy, he is upbeat still about what is possible.
“After the summer break in Spa and Monza, they are two massive power tracks, so it might be a bit more tricky there," he admitted.
“But in terms of grip, balance, that sort of thing, I think we made a good step forward. It will be interesting to see, but that remains the ambition and the target this year, to push ourselves there.”