Renault wants iconic team-driver association with Hulkenberg

Renault believes it can forge the kind of iconic driver/team link with Nico Hulkenberg that Lewis Hamilton has with Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel had with Red Bull in Formula 1.

Renault wants iconic team-driver association with Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault F1 Team
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport F1 Managing Director in the FIA Press Conference
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 leads team mate Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing in the FIA Press Conference
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team with team mate Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team at a team photograph
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16

Hulkenberg is joining the French car manufacturer for the season ahead, as the outfit bids to make progress towards its target of winning races and championships over the next few years.

And while Hulkenberg has not yet managed a podium finish, Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul has no doubts that the German has the speed and potential to become a central part of his company’s future F1 programme.

“It is extremely exciting because he is exactly the type of character that we wanted to have,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.

“We have the opportunity of having someone who is very experienced – who along with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton has been at that level in the junior series - but is not associated to another car manufacturer, or another big team.

“People say he has a low profile, but to us it is a great opportunity because a driver is not just a driver.

"We think we have a great driver in Nico, but he also has the capacity because it is a long-term project with Nico, to make him a great ambassador for Renault and to have a very strong association, just like you have a strong association with Lewis and Mercedes.

“Even today I believe a lot of people continue to associate Sebastian Vettel with Red Bull.

“I hope in a couple of years down the road, if we are successful together, that people will associate Nico and Renault. But first thing comes first, we have to do the job.”

No one turned down Renault

Although Renault took several months to decide its 2017 driver line-up, Abiteboul says that from the start Hulkenberg was always one of its top options.

He is also adamant that, while there were informal talks with a host of other drivers including Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz, none of those who were talked to turned down the chance to race for Renault.

Instead, they were unable to make a move because they were contractually committed elsewhere so were not free to move.

“There is something that has been misrepresented in my opinion, and it is that some drivers have turned away offers made by Renault,” added Abiteboul.

“I guarantee you that no one has turned down any of our offers. I would say it is quite the opposite. Some people made representations that they were free to contract with us, when it was not the case.

“I want to be clear about that, because people say that the Renault project is not attractive enough, that the ambition is not there, or that the financial resources are not there. It is not true.

“Frankly, we have had a lot of interest and Nico was among the top choices, so we are very happy that he is joining us.”

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