Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, 2018

Hulkenberg: “I have to be at the top of my game” against Ricciardo

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In the round-up: Nico Hulkenberg says he can give Daniel Ricciardo a run for his money at Renault this year.

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What they say

Hulkenberg is going into his third second at Renault with his third different team mate this year:

I have to be at the top of my game, I would say. I don’t think I have to raise my game.

I always feel that I want to get everything out of myself and if I do my homework right usually I perform pretty well and it’s enough to beat my team mate but for sure with him coming it’s a big challenge.

He’s fast, he’s good in all the aspects, he’s a grand prix winner, a multiple one. I just have to work at my very best and be hungry and consistent.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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2019 Chinese Grand Prix F1 1000th race promotion
2019 Chinese Grand Prix F1 1,000th race promotion

This year’s Chinese Grand Prix will be the 1,000th round of the world championship – the logo to be used for the event can be seen above (image courtesy of Jun Qian).

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Comment of the day

Did Mercedes try to have it both ways in Sochi?

Out of all people who sympathised for Bottas, only Hamilton seems to be genuinely disappointed and rues it. I’ve never been a Hamilton fan but I admire his ethics from past few years.

Mercedes botched up big way in handling this. Either do it or don’t do it and stick to it and have both parties toe the line. Don’t try to be on either side after that to show it was a difficult choice. Fans understand it.
MB (@Muralibhats)

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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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51 comments on “Hulkenberg: “I have to be at the top of my game” against Ricciardo”

  1. JP (@jonathanproc)
    5th January 2019, 0:04

    That 1,000th race promo poster…yikes

    1. @jonathanproc i really Like the Arrows A23 but it is a rather weird choice for this. Also ruined the paintjob. Also also should have moved Silverstone forward for number 1000. Full Circle and all.

      1. @mrboerns great spot! Arrows A23, genius. 2002 wasn’t it. Most impressive.

      2. @mrboerns
        How did you find out ?

        1. @webtel well, i think the fact it looks like one, that was my first hint :-)

          1. @mrboerns
            Well done. Wish i had a memory like yours :-)

  2. I really like the 2019 driver changes, as one can evaluate/compare different drivers within different teams. In this instance, it will be interesting to see, who comes out on top of the two in Renault. I imagine Hulk is very established within the team after two years there, however, Dan’s charm can win them over easily. I would really like to see them both fighting at the front but of course that may have to take a year or two.

  3. A lot of bagging Hamilton and Mercedes for team orders, Bottas etc.

    Its pretty simple, Lewis Hamilton is the single biggest investment Mercedes make on yearly basis, and it would be in their best interest to get the best out of it. Hence, they’ve built an environment within their team which allows Lewis to thrive. Be it preferential treatment (direct or indirect), freedom of expression, an obedient teammate and so on and so forth, its working.

    In years gone by, you’d see Lewis moping every now and again, but now he seems to be relatively happy all the time. No Nico to give him a hard time both on and off the grid, has pretty much 100% support of the team, and he’s allowed to do whatever he pleases. Toto Wolff has done a great job to engineer this environment as he has extracted the best out of Lewis.

    I initially predicted that Bottas will get dropped next year, but I’m taking it back. No matter how poor Bottas is, they will retain him, because he is a piece that fits the puzzle perfectly, balance undisturbed. Bringing in Ocon is a risk, because he could potentially destabilize the environment. Which is why Toto will find a way to engineer a move for him elsewhere. I’m still going with my prediction that there will be an empty race seat at Ferrari for 2020. So…….

    1. @jaymenon10 Bottas will likely remain at Mercedes for as long as the constructor’s title is somewhat comfortable. The minute one of Ferrari or Red Bull beats, or even runs Mercedes very close for the WCC, that’s when they will feel they have to replace Bottas with someone better. They cannot risk having a driver of Bottas’ caliber if both Ferrari and Red Bull have cars as competitive as the Mercedes. If Vettel hadn’t made as many mistakes as he did, Ferrari would have taken the WCC to the last race for 2018, and Leclerc is a likely upgrade on Raikkonen, so the pressure’s on.

      1. @mashiat
        I did mull over this, but somehow, I still feel that they will keep Bottas until Lewis signs a new contract. This may sound stupid, but I feel Lewis is more important to Mercedes in the long term than the constructors in the short term, if that makes sense. Ferrari will come for Lewis, and Toto will pull out all the stops, one of which will be to retain Bottas. A winning Lewis is a happy Lewis. A Ferrari driver may very well finish second next year, but it doesn’t mean it will be a close second.

        Ocon will not play nice, he believe he can world champion and that he can beat Lewis. I’m not saying he will, but he’s certainly got self belief that kid.

    2. Maybe they should change Bottas’ race number to 44b.

  4. Wow, I’m totally loving the marketing for the 1000th race. Liberty have really knocked this one out the park! /s

    1. Anybody else looking forward to Bam Bam Bigelow’s debut?

      1. Aaaah, that’s why they separated the driver weight from the car’s weight, @faulty

        I think it’s a generation thing – to me the flamey go-faster stripes reminds me of Hot Wheels cars.

        1. @faulty
          Bam Bam Bigelow – lol, I haven’t heard that name in years!!

          As a Ricciardo fan I want him to beat Nico, but think this is a good chance for the Hulk to show how good his is and hopefully grab that first podium. It would be great if Renault could bridge the gap and be a race winner next year but think that be a bridge to far next year, hopefully 2020.

    2. That poster was lovingly crafted by a team of highly skilled professionals and was definitely NOT knocked up by the work experience boy over the Christmas break. But at least he remembered to use the right logo. The flames are symbolic and shambolic. It works on many levels. Pretty deep stuff.

    3. @phylyp

      Quote “Wow, I’m totally loving the marketing for the 1000th race. Liberty have really knocked this one out the park! /s”

      Yes they really got their 500 bucks worth

  5. I have a feeling Hulk doesn’t even have to bring his a-game to beat Ricciardo. Not unless Ricciardo himself can improve noticeably from his last few seasons.

    1. Even though I am a huge Ricciardo fan, I agree with that. I feel like Hulkenberg and Perez are the two most underrated driver’s out there.
      In my view the fact that we are going to have some changes in regulations that should help taller/heavier drivers, this might be a great opportunity for Nico to shine. I always felt that the only reason people like Hulkenberg, Webber or even Eriksson were slower than expected (at least what I expected) because they don’t look like jockeys. I still remember 2009 and how skinny people like Sutil or Kubica were.
      If the rules, will make the impact of your physical size not as big as it is today, this might be the best of Hulkenberg we’ve ever seen.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        5th January 2019, 8:56

        I think Hulkenberg is just OK on the whole. In most races, I’s say he’s decent or very good. But he’s made a few of the biggest mistakes of any driver this year. Basically he’s been responsible for 7 retirements this year which is more than any other driver this year or the last. And that includes drivers that people too often criticize for crashing.

        He pretty much repeated his crash from Baku in the same race again this year. And although Spa didn’t look to be intentional at all and was very unfortunate, the outcome of that was really really bad. At the time, he caused himself, Alonso and Leclerc to retire. As well as triggering Ricciardo to wallop Kimi which gave Kimi a puncture. Ricciardo suffered damage and the team tried to get some laps in even when they knew they were out of the race but it ended up having more problems and he then retired. Ferrari then found out that KImi had more damage than they first thought, and he soon ended up retiring too. So basically, Hulkenberg was pretty much the main cause of all the retirements that race, and that was a quarter of the grid. He then had a laps of concentration in the final race knocking just himself out this time.

        I feel that if he keeps making mistakes like these (i know only 3 effected his own race) , Ricciardo’s going to be able to grab more points. He hasn’t been making these type of mistakes.

        I still think Hulkenberg is a good driver. Based on the last 2 years, due to his mistakes, i can not call him consistent and I think Perez is much better.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          5th January 2019, 14:40

          @thegianthogweed Spa was Leclerc’s fault – he caused Alonso and Hulk to retire. No Leclerc, no accident…

          1. @freelittlebirds, is this meant to be some sort of strange joke? Hulkenberg himself said it was his fault for misjudging the entry into the corner and locking his brakes – he explicitly stated “there is nobody else to blame here” and took full responsibility for what happened, saying that he misjudged his braking point.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            5th January 2019, 19:54

            The braking point is not a fixed point – it’s dependent on your speed, your distance to the corner , and the obstacles between you and the corner and the braking points of said obstacles. New obstacle with different speed = new braking point. Simple as that. Leclerc caused that accident – Hulkenberg just wasn’t able to factor in all the variables at the time and was probably too busy fighting for position as opposed to wondering what on earth Leclerc was smoking when he cut across the whole track on the 1st turn.

            If there is someone to blame for that, it’s Leclerc 100%. As for Hulk, he’s too nice of a nice guy and Alonso just complains about everything not necessarily making the right call as he does so – if he didn’t complain, he’d be winning WDCs…

          3. Thank you @freelittlebirds for a great comment! As a complement check the graph and how huge potential for deep braking is on that line (Alonso’s case one year earlier). Definitely Leclerc is guilty.

    2. It seems to me the way Nico spoke suggests he wasn’t bringing his “A game” to the race track. Daniel will, so I’m expecting Daniel to be getting better results than Renault have had in recent years.

      1. Don’t worry, this is what every driver tells the press when a new team mate arrives. It’s just being nice. Ricciardo said something like this after Verstappen joint Red Bull and we here it very often.

    3. “Not unless Ricciardo himself can improve noticeably from his last few seasons.” – Improve over his last few seasons? RIC has been RB’s MVP, performance wise, every single year, that’s 5 years in a row.

      1. only down under ;)

        1. Ah, as predictable as always. VER or RIC mentioned in an article, and look who’s coming to the rescue of VER, hahahahhaha.
          VER got outperformed for everyone to see. This includes Belgians, oranges and the rest of the world.

    4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      5th January 2019, 14:57

      The Hulkenberg/Ricciardo battle will also shed light on Sainz’s performance. I can’t wait to see those 2 race. It would be good for Renault to also make the leap forward and cut the distance to the forerunners.

  6. Anyone with a better car-memory than me know what car they’ve repainted for the 1000th race picture? Or is it a chimera? Looks broadly mid-2000s but I’m pretty useless at identifying old cars…

    1. @neilosjames I’m not sure if it’s an old race car that’s been painted over, but it looks like it’s from the early 2000s, judging from the sidepods.

    2. It looks more like an A1GP car rather than an F1 machine.

    3. I’m seeing, perhaps a 2003 Jordan front wing, the cockpit area gives me Ferrari F2000, sidepods are a bit 2001 Minardi… but I can’t recall any tram having the flip-ups joined to the cowling like that.

      Just me off the top of my head…

      1. @scottie, there was a suggestion of the Arrows A23 earlier in this thread, which looks like the most plausible contender.

        1. It is. Check the nose, the Long ‘tusks’ suspending the Front Wing, the twin keel, the airbox. Prime A23 right there

          1. Definitely an Arrows A23/Super Aguri SA05:

          2. The real Verstappen special… nice touch .

          3. erikje Nope, verstappen left Arrows at the end of 2001. the A23 was the 2002 car.

          4. This A23 has real engine inside….

  7. Re “Racing Point’s Grand Plan”.
    I suspect the fashion world is filled with talented people who can’t get their unique and credible designs manufactured and into stores. At the same time there are people like Lawrence Stroll who employ talented people who create designs to their unique “formula” that will sell “like hot cakes”, which they manufacture and put into stores.
    In the same way, Lawrence Stroll is now learning what will and what won’t work in F1. New designs are worthless unless they are manufactured, “stitch perfect” for their “two most most important customers”. Models are useless if what they’re expected to show is out of sync with reality. Just as fashion moves, F1 designs move too. Somewhere “out there” is pre-season testing, and after that the start of this year’s F1 season.
    I’m really looking forward to see how Racing Point perform this year.

  8. The Renault intra-team battle is going to be interesting to look for with a pairing formed by a multiple-race winner and the best driver at performing late-braking overtaking moves, as well as, a somewhat unproven quantity who’s yet to score a podium-place in F1.

    “Long term, when all the rules, change, hopefully we will be one of the greatest teams in the paddock.”
    – I have my doubts on that.

    Regarding the COTD: Although I agree with it I also still maintain my point that it was the right thing to do at the time given the uncertainty over how the remaining races could potentially pan out.

    The Chinese GP poster, though. A great design.

  9. GtisBetter (@)
    5th January 2019, 8:53

    I don’t really believe that Rosberg had a big influence. Or that mercedes wants a “easy” driver next to hamilton. With Rosberg they had record one-two’s and if any driver did not the perform the other driver did. Ferrari has been improved, but Rosberg could have challenged Vettel, where Bottas can not.

    They probably do consider the advantages and disadvantages of the driver next to Hamilton, but more likely they were still evaluatieve Bottas and Ricciardo wanted an answer sooner than Mercedes were willing to give.

    1. You just proved Rosberg had a big influence.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      5th January 2019, 14:50

      @passingisoverrated Yeah but Nico also caused multiple unnecessary collisions between the 2 Mercs – Spain 2016 cost Mercedes 43 points and Lewis the WDC (that race alone was the tipping point of 7 points). An intrateam battle, especially a super toxic one that Nico felt was necessary for him to win the WDC, could have cost Mercedes a WCC.

      Picking a teammate like Bottas that can help the team achieve its goals was a good call in my opinion. I venture that if Bottas raises his game and beats Hamilton, Hamilton will simply tip his hat off to Bottas.

      1. Re Spain 16- sorry but the overtaking driver does NOT have right of way

        1. @mrboerns
          ROS was more of a team player than HAM has ever been.

          Giving way to HAM in Monaco, losing 19 points in the process instead of maybe just a couple, so MERC could win that race.

          He’s still blaming ROS for something that was a racing incident at best (from his HAM-FBoy view). Most people agreed it was more HAMs fault and as a consequence you could argue HAM costed ROS 25 points instead. It was in anyway very poor race craft of HAM.
          He also, just for the sake of his argument, assumes HAM would’ve won that race (with ROS 2nd), LOL. Shall we cut a GP distance short to just the first 3 corners of the first lap then? And while we at it, ROS wouldn’t have made his defensive move if HAM wouldn’t have made his attacking one, so HAM would’ve stayed 2nd (pré corner 4, hahaha). And even if ROS hadn’t defended after HAM attacked, there’s no telling who would’ve won. Like I said and we all know, a race is more than just the first km or so.

          Furthermore and hugely significant, Michael has trained his mind to ignore the fact that ROS only needed 2nd places in a dominant car after just 17 races into the season. That’s 1/5th of the season in which ROS only needed to beat the other 20 drivers in far lesser cars, not having to concern about HAM at all, and he readily did so. Many FBoys ‘point out’ that despite everything, HAM won 10 races to 9 for ROS, but don’t like to be remembered about this fact that for the last 4 races, ROS didn’t need to win and that ROS in fact, after these first 17 GPs, was 9 to 6 in race wins. That’s a whopping 50% more wins than HAM.

          And talking about a super toxic environment, it’s HAM who likes and liked to play mind games and throw caps at his teammate. He also had experience pré-ROS with ALO.

  10. MB (@muralibhats)
    5th January 2019, 14:40

    Thanks for the COTD mention!

  11. Hulk vs Ric will be a great one but only in race points but Hulk will has a 15:6 Quali pace.

  12. @mrboerns
    They take credit for everything. The ‘VER special’ that year meant ramming JPM as a race leader from behind when he was just lapped by him, completely misjudging his braking point in JPMs slipstream (and dismissing any blame in interviews afterwards as another ‘special’ VER-trait) and being outperformed by rookie Bernoldi while he was in his prime. Ofcourse they replaced him the following year.

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