Renault Sport Formula One Team‘s Nico Hülkenberg is carrying extra motivation for Renault’s home race at this weekend’s French Grand Prix.
For the first time since 2008, France returns to Formula 1 at the Paul Ricard circuit. The track is often used for pre-season testing in some series or hosting junior formula rounds but for the first time since 1990, it’ll host a F1 race on a new configuration.
The Grand Prix this weekend will also mark Renault’s home race as the French team based in Enstone, England and Viry-Châtillon, France will hope to grab a special result in front of the home crowd.
Nico Hülkenberg will also be hoping for the same, who said ahead of the weekend that a home race has been a long time coming for the manufacturer and is carrying extra motivation for the track.
“I’m very much looking forward to racing at Circuit Paul Ricard.” said Hülkenberg.
It’s been a long time coming for Renault, 10 years since their last race on home soil, so I’m carrying that extra level of motivation to do the job proud on track. I know how much this means to the staff members of the team!”
Minority of drivers have experienced the Paul Ricard circuit before from racing in junior series, long before Formula 1. But Hülkenberg has driven around the track before, more recently ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans which he went on to win with Porsche in 2015.
“I know the circuit quite well actually, so it’s not like going in totally blind. I’ve driven a few laps there back when I was preparing for the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours.” he said.
“The characteristics of the circuit are quite similar to the last round in Montréal, especially the long straights with need for a high-top speed, as well as heavy braking zones. Friday practice is going be important for all teams and drivers to get up to speed of learning a new circuit, but that’s a challenge I look forward to and I’ll be doing my best to discover some secrets.”
In preparation for a new track on the calendar, drivers often spend time researching and practicing the circuit with the team’s simulator to get a feel over what the track will be like when it comes to the weekend. Hülkenberg said that completing laps in the simulator is a good starting point to get a feel over what to expect.
“Completing laps on the simulator is a good starting point, and we’ll be spending a day at Enstone going through set-ups and trying to get some data on board before we head there.
“Then it’s about working hard with your engineers, learning and listening, before putting it all into practice and trying to get as many laps as possible chalked up through the Friday and Saturday practice sessions.”