Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Monaco, 2018

Hulkenberg: Renault’s weak point “stops us from going faster”

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In the round-up: Nico Hulkenberg is pleased with Renault’s rate of improvement so far this season.

What they say

I think the strong points is the car has been a pretty good all-rounder. You see other teams, they are more up and down from different track layouts. Sometimes like Toro Rosso and Haas they’ve been up and down, we’ve been pretty much consistent, around fourth or fifth team on all tracks. That’s definitely a strong point.

A weak point is just the characteristic, the balance of the car that we have that stops us from going faster.

We’ve made progress for sure. We have different to last year we didn’t have so many updates and then in Silverstone we got one big package. This year we have a bit of a different approach, we have little things every weekend, which is good, so we have made progress. As a driver you’re always impatient and you want more, faster. But I think the rate of improvement was good.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

It’s been ten years since the last French Grand Prix – has the eldest Frenchman on the grid calmed down his controversial streak in that time? Garns is convinced of F1’s ability to bring harmony, at least-

That was my first overseas race in Suzuka 2012 when Romain took out Webber, whom I was a big fan. We sat next to a young Japanese guy who had a portable TV and I thought it was Webber taken out so I was asking him, maybe a little animated and loud “WHAT JUST HAPPENED !! WHO WAS THAT??” Poor young bloke, maybe early 20’s, looked at me as if I was going to beat him, until my wife pointed out he didn’t understand English – oops!! “yes -Webber out”. I bought him a beer or three and we enjoyed the rest of the race talking VERY broken language (F1 does that- brings people together).

Pretty open dialogue from Romain there, pretty hard for top sportspeople to do really as its shows weakness (well back in the old days). I though Steiner was ready to sack him for next year but he is showing some more support now. I never say a driver ‘deserves’ and win or a Drivers Title, so I will say I hope Groesjan does ‘sneak’ a win before he finishes.

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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23 comments on “Hulkenberg: Renault’s weak point “stops us from going faster””

  1. Totos comments make a lot of sense, the drive has to come from within not from outside

    1. Totally on board with Toto. Growing up I sometimes wished my parents were a bit more invested in my sailing competitions (and school results), but it really was a blessing in disguise. They did support me but never pushed me more than necessary. (long story coming, sorry, it hit a nerve and if it can help somebody in the future…)

      It’s a blessing because I never felt after leaving home that studying was anything less than satisfying to me and I pushed my sailing career to its end, far longer than most of my then comrades have. I probably was lucky my father had nothing to compensate sailing wise as he is a really good sailor (and I have to say, I had it up to there that when I did well, i got sentences like “of course, that’s normal given who your father is” and when i had hard races, it was more “that’s surprising, your father would have won that”. So in a sense I comiserate with young Max, Nico and Carlos -boy that’s a lot of sons of-).

      I have a rather vivid memory of a difficult race under dreadful conditions for 10 year olds (rain, winds etc.), we were little boys in small boats, and most of us were completely out of our depths. Two hours of sailing against the elements rather than others, I felt really happy to have ended up 3rd (and seriously, relieved to have finished the race with no harm or breakage). Of course, my father wasn’t on the beach to help me pull up the boat and furl the sail, i would give him a call from the club when i was finished to be picked up. But the father of the boy who piped me in the last leg to second was here.

      I remember him scolding his son for not winning it. The man was a pharmacist, a sunday sailor, and was expecting his son -who was really good in my eyes : he had just beaten me, and beat me often- to beat everybody every time. The poor boy was crying. They were doing a debrief of where he did wrong etc… Dreadful.

      The winner was in the same situation as I was in (parents paid for the expensive sport, woke up on sundays early to bring him to races, displayed the ugly trophies in the living room…) and we were both gob smacked and a little shaken. Ultimately, the winner of that race became double hobie 16 world champion, and to my knowledge became an olympian (though he didn’t make it to a medal, he was close). I managed top 10’s in diverse series in the world, european and French championships…. The boy in question stopped sailing a few years later, when it became serious, and you had to dig in, take time off of more leasurely past times to train, train, train… I still fondamentally had the desire to impress my parents with the results, but when I think to why I spent a minimum of 20 hours a week training plus sank week ends in to racing for years, building sponsoring plans etc… to afford it all… it was because fundamentally, I enjoyed it, and that’s the most important.

  2. Voulez-vous coucher avec moi? The best French phrase ever, LOL.
    – The COTD, though.

  3. Andrew Benson’s tweet is very interesting to see – the gap to the midfield, and the gap to the tail enders. More interestingly, the ~1 second gap that Red Bull has over the midfield is something they hope exists at the end of 2018, so they have a safe buffer to the midfield when they run Honda PUs.

    1. It would be much better to present the percentages rather than absolutes. Doing it this way puts more emphasis on the longer tracks where the absolute differences are likely to be greater. Still, it’s intuitively what I would have expected – ferrari, merc, RB (in that order) then a big gap to the midfield, covered by less than a second, then a smaller gap to sauber and williams (in that order).

      the order of the midfield is perhaps the most interesting, but this area has seen the most variation in form. it looks bad for mclaren and i fear that their late adoption of the renault (and compromised design) will inhibit development, relative the works renault team and other more settled teams like force india and haas.

  4. Sush Meerkat
    21st June 2018, 5:26


    the eldest Frenchman on the grid calmed down his controversial streak in that time

    Romain Giraffe is Swiss not French, he races under a French racing licence since Switzerland do not permit racing licences

    1. Actually, whilst Grosjean might have been born in Geneva, he is officially a Swizz-French dual national as his mother is French.

    2. Switzerland banned (note past tense) CIRCUIT racing until a fortnight ago when Zurich hosted Formula E. However, hill climbs, rally and other speed events were and are permitted. There is a Swiss racing licence – Seb Buemi won’t Le Mans with one – and here are the details:

      Romain is French-Swiss dual national and his wife is French. He historically races under a French licence as he hoped it would help him get Renault support – which he had.

      1. Sush Meerkat
        21st June 2018, 11:04

        Thanks for the clarification!

  5. There is this interesting article that covers how F1 looked the last time it was at the French GP in 1990:–france-flashback–how-f1-looked-in-1990.html

    As far as the cars are concerned, some interesting points of comparison are:

    The McLaren MP4/5B was the title-winning car, but arguably not the most aerodynamically advanced. It was formidable because it had the most powerful engine – a 690bhp 3.5-litre Honda V10 – and was driven by Ayrton Senna. Around Suzuka it was around 9s slower than last year’s pole position time by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes W08, a car with over 40% more power from its turbo hybrid 1.6-litre V6 and around twice the downforce. This is despite conforming to much more restrictive aerodynamic regulations and weighing 728kg compared to the regulation minimum of 500kg in 1990.

    There’s many other nice comparisons of suspension, aero, gearboxes, fuel, etc. Nothing too detailed, but an interesting read nonetheless.

    1. FlatSix (@)
      21st June 2018, 7:25

      @phylyp A testament to what clever engineering can do in 30 years. I hope one day a team decides to do what Porsche did with the 919. Just take their fastest F1 car, adapt as they see fit and go around Europe setting records.

    2. @phylyp, there is a bit of an error in their comparison of the minimum weight though – they fail to note that the 1990 minimum weight is for the car only, whereas the figure for 2018 includes the weight of the driver.

      1. @flatsix – very true, the engineering advances have effectively been outstripping the regulations aimed at curtailing speed. The specific output of the engines in particular has improved immeasurably!

        anon – ah, very nice catch there!

    3. I’m pretty sure the modern f1 cars have more than double of the downforce of the 1990 cars. Modern cars also have less drag.

  6. Freddy Fender
    21st June 2018, 7:16

    Hopefully Newey will fix Renault’s weak point.

    1. If Newey moves to Renault I suspect Ricciardo may go as well. Renault have said they are very keen to get Ricciardo. With Newey taking over the design any advantage RB have would be gone.

    2. How serious and realistic are those rumours, i.e. that Renault are courting Newey, and maybe even Vettel?

      1. Vettel? No I can’t see that, Ferrari are genuine contenders. Renault with Newey maybe. If Newey feels he has done all he can at RB and he wants another challenge.
        RB have made it clear MV is their man. So maybe if Newey goes to Renault Ricciardo might follow.

        1. First I’m hearing of Newey-to-Renault rumours, but I would think he has just been handed a nice new challenge in helping the team merge the Honda pu to the back of the RB.

          I had opined several weeks ago about perhaps DR-to-Renault as a possibility in the sense that he could make them ‘his’ team, and they’re a works team to boot, who no longer have their best performing team on board and will be looking to adapt to that by improving themselves greatly.

  7. ColdFly (@)
    21st June 2018, 9:22

    Glad to see Caption Competition back ;-)

  8. Cheers for COTD.

    Toto’s comments are spot on as always, I think is goes to show why he has been successful, both inside and outside of F1. I think he is the best team principle on the grid and keeps matters in check a bit better than, say Horner does. It Spain 2016 he came down on the drivers hard where when you look at Multi-21, Baku this year of Hungary last year Horner doesn’t seem to have the same control (distracted by Uncle Marko maybe??)

    Andrew Benson’s tweet show how much the grid needs close that gap to make racing better and teams more competitive. The gap of top 3 to the rest is too high and not good for F1. Ross Brawn is a genius and hopefully this is up there on his agenda.

    Newey to Renault and Dan to follow? That may be interesting. You would assume a straight swap with Sainz I guess? If he really thinks the Honda is a dud (but they keep getting better) and cant convince Ferrari having two drivers being competitive IS a good thing this would be a better option than big money at McLaren. $20mil per season sounds nice but Dan is up there with Lewis in post-career marketability potential- he wont be short of a buck when he retires from F1 but getting a car that can win him a WDC doesn’t come around everyday.

    I think both will stay, but Newey may be looking for that next challenge.

    1. If there is no option of a place at Merc or Ferrari then I think Dan will stay at RBR. He could sign up for a couple more years and see what happens.

      If Newey did go to Renault then I think he might follow but if not, could he really be convinced that Renault would make better progress over the next 2 years than RBR with a works Honda package?

      1. I suspect that Newey isn’t too interested in who will make more progress but more what challenge tickles his fancy. My understanding it is with lifestyle options that RBR have kept him to date, including working on supercars and America’s cup yachts as well as allowing him to prioritize family. Maybe he’s comfortable? Maybe the challenge of closing a 1.3 second gap with a works team is too tantalizing to resist.. If I were in his position, I would feel I had nothing left to prove, be open to a new challenge and do whatever interested me most.

        I also suspect there is a significant stand down period in his contract

Comments are closed.