Nico Hulkenberg heads into this weekend’s 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix looking to continue a run of seventh place qualifying efforts that extends back to last year’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Hulkenberg, who has been out-qualified by a team-mate just once in the previous twenty-seven races, says that his Renault Sport Formula One Team have provided him with a car that allows for his consistent qualifying results but this year he believes they currently lag behind the likes of the Haas F1 Team and the McLaren F1 Team.
“I think I’ve just managed to… yeah… to hit it on the head each time,” said Hulkenberg of his impressive qualifying performances. “I quite enjoy qualifying, I like getting out there where it counts and putting a lap together.
“I feel also the last 20 or so races I also had a car that allows me to do that and gives me the support that a driver needs also.
“Since last year, with this generation of cars, when you have the downforce, you’ve got more grip to work with. It’s just been a bit more fun and probably helps the way I drive also, a little bit.”
Asked during the FIA press conference in Azerbaijan if Renault can challenge the top three teams, Hulkenberg pointed to Haas and McLaren as key rivals to the ‘best-of-the-rest’ title.
“I think for now it’s more, like you say, about Haas and McLaren, these kind of teams, to try to keep them at bay but it’s very tight.
“Each weekend will be a bit different depending on the tyre compounds, different tracks and layouts. What favours one car more than another one. But for sure it’s a big development race in the midfield also.
“But yeah, we’re trying to get ahead but still got a lot of areas to work on to catch all the three guys ahead.”