Nico Hülkenberg says that the Renault F1 Team has a “lot of work” to do in order to reach the level of Formula 1‘s three front-running teams.
Renault lagged behind projected rivals Red Bull Racing and the Haas F1 Team in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, with both Hülkenberg and new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo failing to reach Qualifying 3 on Saturday at Albert Park.
Hülkenberg salvaged a seventh place finish for the French marque, holding off the close attentions of a four-car train led by Alfa Romeo Racing‘s Kimi Räikkönen late in the race.
“It’s a good start to the season with some solid points on the board,” said Hülkenberg.
“It was a tricky race – especially the final 10 laps – I was under pressure and really had to fight to hang onto seventh place. I’m pleased to pull that off.
“The start and the first lap made our race; it’s so crucial to have track position around here and from there it was about managing the car and the tyres.”
However, the 30-year-old concluded that the lack of performance compared to pre-season predictions suggests that there’s a lot of progress for Renault to make in the coming races.
The R.S.19 was very close to missing the start of winter testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya due to a very late sign-off time.
While Renault is confident that it has made gains in the power unit performance, after completely rebuilding its package for the 2019 season, Hülkenberg said that car balance was an issue that the Australian weekend highlighted.
“We can be pleased with today, it’s a positive result,” Hülkenberg added.
“But it also shows we have a lot of work ahead of us.
“We need to dig deep and continue finding performance especially to improve the car balance.”