Hulkenberg switches to Renault for 2017

2017 F1 season

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Nico Hulkenberg will race for Renault in 2017 after a signing a ‘multi-year’ deal, the team has announced.

The 29-year-old will join the team from Force India, who he has driven for in the last three seasons.

“Renault has always been a big player in the motorsport world that brings up incredible memories,” said Hulkenberg. “In his stint with Renault, Michael Schumacher not only helped make Germany an F1 nation, he also sparked my enthusiasm and fire for racing.”

Schumacher used Renault power when he won his second world championship with Benetton in 1995.

“It has always been my dream to work for a manufacturer team,” Said Hulkenberg. “F1’s new regulations will change the game and give our team a good opportunity. In the years to come, Renault will play a challenger role, which fits my approach to racing 100%. I can’t wait to become part of the family.”

Hulkenberg thanked Force India for allowing him to make the change.

Renault’s announcement means at least one of their present drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, will not drive for the team next year.

Hulkenberg made his F1 debut with Williams in 2010, having previously been the team’s test driver. However he was replaced by Pastor Maldonado at the end of the season and joined Force India as a test driver. He was promoted to their race team in 2012 but switched to Sauber the season after. He returned following an unsuccessful season with the Swiss team and has been at Force India ever since.

Last year he also drove in two rounds of the World Endurance Championship for Porsche and won the Le Mans 24 Hours in a 919 LMP1 car shared with Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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46 comments on “Hulkenberg switches to Renault for 2017”

  1. I don’t think this is as bad a move as it currently looks. Renault/Team Enstone always seem to end up back towards the front eventually. I hope it works out for Hulkenberg, as I think being beaten by Checo so often in recent seasons – coupled with the lack of a podium – has really lowered his stock from the ‘future superstar’ he was once touted as.

  2. Good move for him. It’s probably his last chance to risk it all and move teams. He was stuck at Force India and Perez was getting the better of him.

    He can get his mojo back, and hope the team improves enough to challenge for something in the near future.

  3. If Renault can be more competitive than McLaren next year, perhaps Alonso to Renault for 2017?

    1. I want both Renault and McLaren to become more competative in the coming years. They and Mercedes, RedBull, Ferrari have the ability to be contenders. FI, Williams, STR and Haas not so much (let alone Caterham or Manor)

      1. Wait, what? Caterham?

      2. HRT. How about HRT?

        1. Also been awhile since Toyota scored any points in the WCC! ;o)

    2. Next year is going to be tough for renault. There have been lots of news articles about how the renault (ex-lotus) team as it is now doesn’t have the engineers they’d need to build a really good car and are struggling trying to find good people. The future does look good for them but a lot of it depends whether renault can hire enough good people fast.

      If renault can then with manufacturer backing they can become winners. Definitely not next season though. 2018 some podiums, 2019 some wins, 2020 honest attempt at winning the whole thing. That’s pretty optimistic but possible. After all it took a long time for merc to start winning so it will be for renault.

      That being said I think renault is a good bet for the future. If you are willing to sacrifice some years in bad car to be there when they start winning then renault is the only team that can offer that for hulk. Force india at best can hope to stay where they are.

  4. My guess is KMag is getting the boot

  5. The question now is: K-Mag or Palmer? Personally, I believe they would do best to still with Magnussen

    1. Does Palmer bring financial backing? I think he does. KMag also brings some backing if I am not wrong.
      Not sure what Renault should do. There are lot of nearly drivers available – Hulk, KMag, Bottas, Perez. I think Perez is the strongest out of those 4 and Renault obviously haven’t been able to get him. Is Hulk 2nd best, may be.
      I think Renault should gamble on a rookie instead of picking one out of K-mag or Bottas. Ocon would be great I believe.

    2. Or none, we can’t say the line up has been great this year for them. Promise of a return to forum at the beginning for mag but it never seems to come and Palmer hasn’t show much either. I wouldn’t be against a totally new line up for them with Ocon next to hulk, would be the most appealing and in line with Renault long term objectives in f1. And it’s not like mag or palmer bring a lot of extra experience once they have hulk…

      1. I think Magnussen is only third choice and Palmer fourth. They’d rather sign Bottas or Ocon.

      2. For all we know they may have been the best drivers on the grid this year.
        The car is a absolute dog.

        I think it will be a shame if this is the last we see of Palmer, I think he’s handled himself very well in difficult circumstances.

      3. Eh, I think Magnussen has done enough to keep his seat for at least another year. It’d be good to see how he compares to Hulkenburg.

      1. Ocon maybe or maybe not… He has got Merc backing. Possible FI drive although I expect Wehrlein to get it.

        Renault have a dilemma on their hands. Palmer has backing. KMag has raw talent. Ocon and Bottas have racecraft.

        I don’t know who will partner Hulk but it will be exciting to see.

  6. Alonso will want to get paid massively. Can Renault afford him? I don’t think he’s value for money considering they’re not expecting championships until next decade. Remember Honda are paying a good chunk (if not all) of Alonsos salary.

  7. Hulk happy. Hulk finally has factory drive. Hulk hopes career move pans out.

    I’m expecting Renault hired him to make a step forward to a midfield team. He’s proven to be reliable if a midfield car has decent pace. A safe pair of hands unlike Palmer and K-mag who have been out and about this season. K-Mag being out for one year isn’t representable and do you trust Palmer to be competitive?

  8. So what this means is that Pascal wherline will join force India

  9. Good for him! Too bad it wasn’t a move further up the grid. Good Luck to you!

  10. It’s a sage move on so many levels. Hulkenberg has been in a tricky situation ever since he fell short of a Ferrari drive in 2013, and whilst Force India has been a respectable platform for showcasing his talents to top teams, the fact that he had no manufacturer affiliation at all and up against a teammate in the form of his career stacked the cards against him. I don’t think the change to heavier, hybrid cars has suited him either.

    Yes, he has been a consistent points scorer and Q3 qualifier with Force India, but a driver of his calibre should always be trying to move up the grid, so I was surprised he turned down the opportunity to forge Ferrari links when Haas came knocking last year. The almost guaranteed wins afforded by a deal with Porsche in WEC would have also been tempting versus F1 midfield mediocrity.

    However the opportunity to headline (probably alongside Ocon, albeit Force India are now rumoured to be interested in nabbing him) a manufacturer effort must surely justify any short-term frustrations. We have not seen the Nico we have come accustomed to these past twelve months, but have no doubt, if Renault can find a way, this guy has the capacity to win.

    1. I’m glad he didn’t go the Haas route. Grosjean’s career seems to be going nowhere.

      1. @paeschli – I haven’t been particularly impressed with Grosjean this year, so his stunted career is predominantly his fault.

  11. Completely unexpected.

    Being a die hard Force India fan, I am sad that he left.

  12. I will never forget Brazil 2012 when Hulk lead the race ahead of the much faster McLarens for many laps in wet-dry conditions, which would have certainly resulted in a podium had he not crashed.

    Anyways, wishing luck to him.

    1. Did he crash..? I seem to remember he got a ridiculous penalty for an aggressive overtake on Hamilton and that ruined his victory chance?

      1. Hulkenberg did lose control of his car on the wet part of the track during this overtaking attempt on Hamilton, which resulted in a collision that forced Hamilton to retire. Whether you consider this worthy of a penalty is another question.

      2. Yeah yeah I meant the same.

  13. This is a fairly good move. Renault will have been encouraged by the recent Red Bull podiums, so they will be wanting to have their own drivers on the podium too. Whether it is fair or not, this appointment suggests they aren’t happy with at least one of their current drivers, and have decided they need someone with experience.

    1. Agree, good engine combined with new chassis the option to surprise many in 2017.

    2. You think this is a move by Renault to dumb the blame of no results on their current drivers?
      Could be they want ‘a clean sheet’ to start from a fresh in 2017.

  14. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    14th October 2016, 18:14

    This is his last real chance to become a podium achiever or even a race winner. I agree with most here – Enstone has always recovered to the point where a victory is feasible. You saw how Kimi could win twice with them. Next year change of rules, hopefully, will suit a manufacturer team better than a customer team. So let’s see how he can face this new challenge: Lately, it’s evident Perez has outclassed him.

  15. I sure wish him the best. He has been the odd man out of every silly season since he got into F1, while at the same time proven to be a solid consistent performer. Aside from the perks and security of a paycheck that come with a factory ride, this is not really a break for him unless Renault can magically find horsepower like RedBull has. After all, it is the same magic engine that jumped to the front without spending tokens. Magic.

  16. Tommy Scragend
    14th October 2016, 18:57

    “In his stint with Renault, Michael Schumacher not only helped make Germany an F1 nation, he also sparked my enthusiasm and fire for racing.”

    That’s a bit tenuous. Schumacher drove a Benetton with a Renault engine for one season. Yes, he won the championship, but he won it the year before as well so the process of making Germany “an F1 nation” isn’t really much to do with Renault.

    1. Remember that Renault used to be Benetton. So not only he drove a Renault-engine, he also drove for the Enstone-based team.

  17. Real good deal for Renault.
    Now they have an experienced and consistent driver that will give them good feedback and a real indication about how good the car is. Something most young drivers cannot give.

  18. I’m mostly happy that he has a seat for at least 2 more years. I remember times when it was unsure if he would even have a seat, which would have been a shame. Good luck to him.

  19. There will be only one British driver on the F1 grid next year.

    1. And he lives in L.A. most of time 😂

  20. I hope the other driever will be Kevin Magnussen.

  21. It is obvious next year Nico Hulkenberg and Carmen Jorda!

  22. Great move for him. Perez probably turned it down as he’s looking at Ferrari in 2018, so Hulkenberg jumping in is a good idea. Force India won’t get much further than this with their low resources, Renault is looking much better for the future. If they pair him with Magnussen, then they have a very strong driver line up for future seasons. Hopefully this will rectify his run of somehow not getting a podium, even with all his talent! He really is a good driver, he won Le Mans in 2015, and always seems to outperform his car (both him and Perez drag that Force India up), even if he gets horrible luck in the races.

    1. Would be great if Renault keeps at least one of their current drivers for 2017 and then compare the performance to the rated Hulkenberg. Think both Magnussen and Palmer got a lousy deal this year with that dog of car from Renault (Lotus…). Both could be great drivers. We will never know if none gets a seat for 2017. Personally I hope Magnussen will get it. Any predictions on how those two would square off?

  23. I mean what has he got to loose? He’s not going to win a championship with Force India. He gets his chance at a works team

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