Nico Hülkenberg: “We have a spring in our step and a bit of momentum”

by Paul Hensby

Nico Hülkenberg says his Renault F1 Team go to this weekend’s French Grand Prix with confidence after an excellent sixth and seventh place finish two weeks ago in the Canadian Grand Prix, and it proved that the hard work going on to improve the R.S.19 is beginning to pay off.

After a testing start to their season, Renault saw Daniel Ricciardo finish sixth in Canada with Hülkenberg just behind in seventh, with the team scoring points with both cars for the first time all season.

The points scored at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve moved the team up to fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, just two points away from the McLaren F1 Team in fourth, and with upgrades being brought to the car this weekend, Hülkenberg is confident the team can score good points again in France.

“We have a spring in our step and a bit of momentum heading into the team’s home Grand Prix,” said the German.  “Everyone is carrying that extra level of motivation to do a good job, even more so after a successful race last time out.

“Hard work always pays off. It was good to see such a strong team effort and a solid result at the end. We’ve underachieved at previous races, sometimes through technical faults or human error, so I feel we’ve always had the potential for good results, but we haven’t scored points.

“Finally, we had a smooth and clean weekend to get points on the board. It’s hopefully a turning point in our season. We have some upgrades for this race, I’m excited for those, and hopefully they will add performance to the car to help us close the gap to the front teams.

“We have a good package; the car is performing consistently and I’m feeling optimistic for Paul Ricard.  Hopefully this season we can do even better than last year.”

Hülkenberg likens the Circuit Paul Ricard to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with the two tracks sharing many characteristics, and he is ready to attack and fight for more points this weekend as Renault continue to aim for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.

“I’ve driven a lot of laps there in the past in different machinery, including last year for my first French Grand Prix,” said Hülkenberg.  “The circuit has a nice flow to it and the characteristics are maybe quite similar to the last round in Montréal with long straights, high top speeds and big braking zones at the end of them.

“Sector one is quite tight and there was some excitement at Turn 1 on race day last year. Sector two brings a long straight into a sharp chicane and then sector three begins with the very fast run through Signes, which is a lot of fun, and a flowing complex of turns to the start-finish straight.”

Hülkenberg says this weekend’s French Grand Prix is a special one for Renault, with a lot of attention set to be put upon them in their home race around the Circuit Paul Ricard.

The German finished ninth in his first Grand Prix at the track twelve months ago, just behind his then team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr., and he expects another successful weekend for everyone involved in the track and the team in 2019.

“It’s obviously very special for Renault and the staff members,” said Hülkenberg.  “Last year was the first French Grand Prix in 10 years and we had a lot of attention on us, but also a lot of support from the French people.

“I think it was a big success overall and the whole weekend went well. The atmosphere was great in and around the track, which is always cool to see and motivating.”

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