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Nico Hülkenberg in an interview about switching to Renault

Interview with Nico Hülkenberg
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W arum go to Renault?

Hülkenberg: I think this is the right step at this point in my career. After five years at Force India and some great successes, it is now time for a new challenge. Since I've been in Formula 1, I've always wanted to drive for a manufacturer, and now was a good opportunity. The timing was perfect. I see it as a good opportunity and the right step in my career. If you want to be at the forefront in Formula 1, you have to team up with a manufacturer in the long term. They have the money, the resources, the possibilities and a long stamina. This prospect was very tempting for me.

But your team-mate Perez stayed.

Hulkenberg: From his point of view, it might make more sense. He can hope that one day he will end up at Ferrari. The doors of the current top teams are tight for me.

How long have you checked whether Renault is really the right address?

Hülkenberg: Of course there were discussions with the relevant people on site. I have already been informed of what they will do to move forward. It quickly became clear that Renault is what I want.

How long have you been in contact with Renault?

Hülkenberg: That has happened relatively quickly and at short notice in the last few weeks.

2017 is a special year. Everything starts from scratch. Is that why the timing is so good?

Hülkenberg: It is difficult to say whether a team change in this particular case is an opportunity or a risk. We won't know until next year. But that wasn't decisive for me. For me, the long-term prospect was more important. And the chance to build something together with the team. It can be a bit difficult next year.

What role did your experience with Porsche 2015 in Le Mans play?

Hülkenberg: That was one aspect. An experience that I had never had before in my career. That already opened my eyes to the power with which such a manufacturer appears. That increased the appetite for a works team.

Whatdo you expect from Renault what Force India cannot give you?

Hülkenberg: A manufacturer has to meet certain expectations of itself. That means driving ahead and winning races. I want to go there too. Of course, Renault still has a long way to go. It's been a tough year for her. It couldn't be otherwise after the purchase of Lotus. It will take time to rebuild this team. I see a bright future there, also a great challenge, but I am ready to accept it. And why shouldn't we write a success story together?

What can the big teams learn from Force India?

Hülkenberg : The management structure is clear, with direct routes and quick decisions. That's why they are so efficient.

It's no secret that Force India has problems with cash flow from time to time. Did a kind of existential fear also play a role in the team change, that this team could collapse one day?

Hülkenberg: Not fear of existence. Ever since I joined Force India there have been headlines and rumors going in this direction. The team has been written to death 20 times and Vijay Mallya has been imprisoned 20 times. The team is still there and so is Vijay. I have a lot of respect for Vijay.

Have you achieved everything you set out to do at Force India?

Hülkenberg: I would have liked to have won a podium with you. This year we had three options in Monte Carlo, Baku and Spa. There were circumstances that prevented that. In Monte Carlo we installed it ourselves through a tactical mistake. In Baku because of my accident in the qualification. In Spa the red flag at the wrong time. I was still in second place there. But the overall picture fits. When I came to Force India we were eight. Now we have a good chance of fourth place. At that time we were quite disorganized and not well positioned. In comparison, I'm driving for a completely different team today. It is nice to have been involved in this development. When I look at it, I'm proud.

Somehow Force India is the Robin Hood of Formula 1. Biters who don't put up with anything. Is this picture correct?

Hülkenberg: They are simply thoroughbred racers. The old Jordan team that was never a bed of roses and had to fight for everything. That DNA is in this team.

What did Force India say when they found out you were going to Renault?

Hülkenberg: You have certainly not made any leaps for joy. But they accepted it. This shows that a human relationship has grown between the team and me. That is more than the normal driver-team boss relationship. They tried to hold me, but also relativelyquickly respected that I want to do something different. Throughout my entire time at Force India, communication has always been very open and fair. There are no games. I am grateful for that. It's always a give and take. I scored a lot for the team, but the team also picked me in 2011 when I suddenly found myself without a job at Williams.

Sergio Perez says you are the best Teammate he ever had. Does that also apply the other way round?

Hülkenberg: Certainly one of the best. Rubens Barrichello is also someone who still buzzes around in my head. Sergio and I learned a lot from each other. I have copied his strengths. He does the same with me. With the result that things are always extremely close between us. We both have to drive to the limit and do everything perfectly, otherwise the other will be two hundredths ahead of you. It's an intense duel, but also exciting and interesting.

What did you learn from him?

Hülkenberg: The tire management. Especially that of the rear tires. He's a driver who has a lot of tolerance when it comes to the rear axle, for example when it is spongy. I also copied his feeling and understanding of the rear tires and his driving style, how to deal with them.

How do you explain that you are despite the close duel always got on well with each other?

Hülkenberg: We both come from good parents, we both had to work hard in our careers, we both have common sense and a high level of respect in front of each other and know what it means to achieve what the other achieves.

You regularly qualify in the top ten. What is the secret of this durability?

Hülkenberg: A good car. That makes life easier and easier. The team did a really good job with the development. The car is a real all-rounder, good on tracks with a lot of downforce, for little downforce, on fast and slow courses. We have become a constant behind the three top teams.

Are you already learning French?

Hülkenberg: No, not yet. But the time will soon be there.

What is your minimum goal for 2017?

Hülkenberg: I hope that we will be competitive straight away and that we will be able to take some points next year. But it's hard to gauge with the rule changes. I see them more as an opportunity than a risk.


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