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Hulkenberg: Contest with Ricciardo “will determine my future”

2019 F1 season

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Nico Hulkenberg says how he performs against new team mate Daniel Ricciardo will be important for his future in the sport.

Ricciardo is the first race-winning driver Hulkenberg has been paired with since he entered Formula 1 in 2010. Hulkenberg, who holds the record for most race starts without finishing on the podium, is conscious of the need to demonstrate his potential against the new benchmark.

“We want to make progress,” Hulkenberg told RaceFans and other media at Renault’s season launch this week. “Last year I wasn’t always satisfied and happy with what we’ve done. So I would like to see more progress. Obviously, ultimately I would like a car that allows me also to finally step on a podium. We’re obviously working on it.

“But it’s also important I think in a way that I have now a team mate that was a proven grand prix winner. It was sort of like that with Rubens [Barrichello] but it was different – [it was] my rookie season and he was [in his] 18th season, it wasn’t quite a good or fair comparison I feel.

“This is much more real or good to compare, I think. So for me personally and very important here to see how I stand up next to that. That will determine also my sporting future in a way.”


Hulkenberg, one of the tallest drivers competing in the 2019 F1 season, said he fits more comfortably in the team’s new car than he has in his previous two Renaults.

“When I started ’17 obviously I signed the deal late and obviously the chassis was already designed so it was sort of a compromise and the seating position wasn’t ideal. Last year obviously then it was designed already around me with a lot of improvements but still not everything perfect.

“For this year again having worked more on it and having spent more time with the designers rearranging stuff – looms, electronic boxes – it is probably the best driver fit. I’m lower in the car too. When you’re lower you have less air turbulence, life’s a bit quieter down there, center of gravity lower. Little things, but it’s always about little things.”

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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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  • 29 comments on “Hulkenberg: Contest with Ricciardo “will determine my future””

    1. Nice to see straight forward honest comments from a driver, it’s what I like about Kimi.

      I rate the Hulk as a driver, he’s never had the machinery to prove it really, this year will indeed be an important one for him.

      I honestly think we’ll see a Renault driver on a podium this year and to be fair its likely to be Ricciardo, he has that ability to extract a result that wasn’t on he cards.

      1. @johnnik Hulkenberg can be very truculent in his interviews but he was quite chatty and forthcoming at the launch. Having gone a few months without having to do many interviews probably helped!

        Having said that, he did begin the interview by saying he was rather tired of answering questions about Ricciardo. He’d done all his television interviews before talking to written media, and drivers often get the same question repeatedly when talking to a series of camera crews.

        1. I’m not surprised that he’s feeling a little grumpy about the focus on Ricciardo.

          It’s almost as if the entire F1 media has already written him off as a no 2 without a wheel being turned.

      2. That may happen but only because the new wings look so vulnerable it might only take a small icident @ turn 1 and a couple of the leading drivers might need to pit for wings!

    2. 2017 & 2018 are the only years in Mercedes Le Mans and F1 history that at least one of their drivers hasn’t been German, and that wasn’t exactly by design (Rosberg retired). Who did Mercedes first try to get as a replacement?

      Huge year for Hulkenberg. If he beats Ricciardo he is in with a good chance for that second Mercedes seat. That would leave Ocon without a seat, but then a French team looking for a driver…

      1. But Rosberg wasn’t German… He just became German. Not the same thing, statistics-wise. ;-)

    3. Ricciardo is the first race-winning driver Hulkenberg has been paired with since he entered Formula 1 in 2010.


      1. @webtel, if that line is meant to include Hulkenberg’s 2010 season, Keith seems to have forgotten that Hulkenberg drove alongside Rubens Barrichello in 2010. Barrichello was a nine time race winner, so whilst Ricciardo is the most recent race winner to drive alongside Hulkenberg, he isn’t even the most successful race winner that Hulkenberg has raced against either.

        1. Keith’s last sentence is very subtile and covers it all. Read it again – carefully:

        2. @anon Likely Keith is going by what NH himself said about 2010 which is that he was a rookie vs an 18 year veteran, so not a fair comparison at the time. NH implies 2019 with DR beside him, is a more reasonable time for comparison to the only other race winner NH will have so far for a teammate in his F1 career since his rookie season.

          1. Definitely no mistake here. Another user recently corrected this in better terms than I can, so I’ll just use Google.

            Since. “In the intervening period between (the time mentioned) and the time under consideration, typically the present.”

            Apologies if English is a second language for anybody.

            1. I can see where the commission comes from here though. “The time mentioned” being when he ENTERED the sport, I suppose you could assume to be a very specific moment; the point that he signed the contract. Or first drove out of the garage.

        3. Agree if he is mentioning it as a statistic.

    4. I’m surprised there hasn’t been enough talk about the new driver + seat weight regulations, and how that will favour the Hulk. I remember teams passing up the opportunity to sign Hulkenberg for that very reason. He was too big and heavy, and that would have an effect on the overall performance on the car.

      That should come as a welcome boost to Hulk’s lap times. It’s hard to say how much impact that will have on his lap time… and if I had to guess (saying a 8 to 10kg disadvantage is overturned) I’d say a tenth of a second on average. Although it may seem minuscule, if he had a tenth a lap on Perez over the last two seasons, he’d have beaten him with ease.

      I’m really curious to see how the Ricciardo vs Hulkenberg battle gets along next season. I reckon Ricciardo might just come out on top as he’s phenomenal in maximising his opportunities, but on a whole, pace-wise I see the Hulk matching Ricciardo throughout the season.

      1. @todfod, some have suggested it was a reason, but on the other hand there have been drivers of similar weight and height who have driven for some of the larger teams in the past – Button, for example, is about the same height and was a similar weight when driving for McLaren when they were still a front running team.

        Equally, up until the start of the 2018 season, Kimi was a fairly similar weight to Hulkenberg as well – and his weight did not seem to be too much of an issue when Ferrari cut off talks with Hulkenberg to sign Kimi instead (at least according to Hulkenberg). With that in mind, I wonder if perhaps the issue of his weight and height is not quite as important as some have suggested it is.

      2. Same thing with Max. He’s tall and relative heavy as well

        1. Max isn’t a heavy driver, he’s average. And he’s 5or6cm/2(.4)in shorter than HUL.

      3. @todfod Interestingly, he’s only very slightly taller than Ricciardo. There’s not much in it.

    5. I’m impressed by Hulkenbergs attitude towards the new challange. Hulkenberg has been around for a long time now and flown under the radar for the last couple of years. He was often faster then Perez but failed to score as many points. He was unlucky some of the time. When he crushed Palmer, in the public eye it was because of the lack of Palmers abilities. When he then quite convincibly beat Sainz last year people didn’t really give Hulkenberg a lot of credit either. Mclaren obviously rate Sainz highly, and so do some of the media. Martin Brundle appears to be Sainz’ biggest fan. If Hulkenberg is a step above Sainz them he should be able to just about match or challange Ricciardo.

      Even if he does beat Ricciardo, I do not see his future become much brighter however. I think the ship has sailed regarding the top teams. Hulkenbergs only hope of achieving something in F1 is by staying at Renault and working to improve the team, the car and finially the results. Ricciardo is pretty much in the same boat, so regardless if Hulkenbergs beats him this year the fight will go on and thus Hulkenbergs performance must be sustainable if he ever is to win a championship.

      1. @me4me sadly that’s probably true about the top teams and Hulkenberg – it’s possible Ferrari paid for that mistake with 1 WCC (perhaps 2 ) so Hulkenberg might have gotten the last laugh out of that exchange.

        It also points out the fact that the best drivers don’t always necessarily drive for the top teams.

    6. As much as i like Hulk, i feel he’s the exact opposite of Ricciardo when it comes to converting slim chances into podiums or wins. Hulk has had a few chances when he could have broken his infamous record when he drove for FI (even Perez had a couple of podiums for them), but somehow failed to do so by his own mistakes or bad luck. On the other hand Ricciardo is the best “thief” in the pack, so i’m not sure we’ll see a podium for Hulk this year.

    7. Two or three great showdowns this year. This, plus Vettel and Leclerc, and maybe Verstappen and Gasly. I expect Ricciardo to have the edge in this one.

    8. And vice versa: Contest with Hulk will determine Ricciardo’s future.

      Ricciardo already has a yellow card from his Red Bull days so this could be a red card for him. The yellow card is really the reason he didn’t make it to Mercedes and Ferrari and he was probably guaranteed a red card at Red Bull next season…

      If he gets a red card, he may end up being sent to simulator duty with Fernando and Gutierrez :-)

      1. I don’t see how Ricciardo had a “yellow card” from RBR. Max and he were pretty much equal when Ricciardo’s car wasn’t breaking down or Max wasn’t running into him. Although I think Max may have had a tenth on him in qualifying.

        Didn’t Dan actually outscore Max during their time together?

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          17th February 2019, 0:23

          @guybrushthreepwood Was Dan really just 1/10th off in qualifying? He seemed off pace by a pretty significant margin in qualifying and race compared to Max.

          1. @freelittlebirds Dan also tended to focus more on the race than qualifying.

        2. I don’t see how Ricciardo had a “yellow card” from RBR. – Indeed.

          Max and he were pretty much equal when Ricciardo’s car wasn’t breaking down or Max wasn’t running into him. – RIC was better than VER in more than 75% of the GP.

          Although I think Max may have had a tenth on him in qualifying. – Even this is a misconception. RIC outqualified VER in terms of avg grid position, big time. And he also outqualified VER in terms of ‘number of times’, if you take out-of-the-drivers’-control-situations into consideration.


    9. There are seveeal levels in his future.

      Riciardo certainly while excellent is not near Lewis – current highest perfirmer.

      If he wants to validate any awesome performance level heneeds to beat Riciardo. Equaling would be OK, anything less ans he is out.

    10. Sainz was quite competitive against Max during torro rosso years. And Hulk beat Sainz comfortably last year.
      I rate Hulk highly and he knows the Renault very well. This should be very interesting. Hope Renault car this year is finally able to challenge the 3rd best team if not the top 2.

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