N ico Hülkenberg knew up to 24 hours before announcing nothing from his new teammate. On the Thursday evening after the Hungarian GP, one day before the announcement, his team boss Cyril Abiteboul called him and informed him of the new teammate. The fact that it would be Daniel Ricciardo hit the German like a bomb.
“Of course I was flabbergasted at first. I actually expected Ocon, ”admits Hülkenberg. Abiteboul confirmed Daniel Ricciardo's version of the way things were going. “It was a last minute decision. At the weekend of the Hungarian GP nothing was clear yet. ”Ricciardo had been on the larger list of possible drivers for the second cockpit for a long time. Like Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz. “It wasn't an option that only turned the corner shortly before the gate closed. We've been talking to each other for a long time, 'admitted Riccuardo.
Abiteboul explains:' We played with open cards at Daniel and honestly told him what to expect. Nobody in the team gave him the wrong hope. ”This included the fact that the Australian will in all probability not be able to expect victories or even the World Championship title in 2019 with the Renault.
“ I have Daniel with all the senior engineers brought together. You gave him a good overview of where we are and where we want to be. Then it was entirely up to him. We didn't put any pressure on him either. He should think about it calmly. ”
Ricciardo gives Renault's project a new weight
In the end, however, there was pressure. Renault had an option on Esteban Ocon at Hockenheimdouble fused. And the team should have redeemed it during the summer break. For Ricciardo the sign to show your colors.
Apparently the change of scenery was more important to the Australian than anything else. Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz is said to have offered even more money at the last minute so as not to make the Australian feel like he was just number 2 behind Max Verstappen. A sum that he cannot get from Renault.
Hülkenberg is looking forward to his new team-mate. Not just because he gets along brilliantly with Ricciardo in private. “It's good for the team and me. His coming is putting the team under pressure and it's a challenge for me to hold out against him. Daniel is one of the best drivers in the field. As a multiple GP winner, he is very important. But I don't think I have to hide from him. ”Hülkenberg thinks like this: If he can keep up with Ricciardo or even beat the newcomer, then he has very good cards for the 2020 season on the transfer market.
The World Cup seventh sees his choice for Renault confirmed. “I'm with Renault because I see potential in the team. There is still a long way to go, but we have already made it halfway. ”
The long Rhinelander expects that Renault will be able to close the gap to the top teams by the end of the current regulations at the end of 2020. And Ricciardo is also an asset for the team: “He brings a lot of experience from Red Bull with him. That can only help us. Daniel's decision strengthens the awareness of Renault and gives our project more weight. ”