Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Hockenheimring, 2019

Ricciardo leading Hulkenberg in close Renault fight

2019 team mate battles: Ricciardo vs Hulkenberg

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Nico Hulkenberg has his third different team mate in as many seasons at Renault. But Daniel Ricciardo has proved a tougher prospect than either Carlos Sainz Jnr or Jolyon Palmer before him.

It took Ricciardo a few races to get comfortable in the Renault. On top of that the team had several technical problems, notably a double retirement in Bahrain. Some problems remain: Ricciardo was forced out in Germany, while Hulkenberg had to cope with a race-long engine problem in Hungary.

However neither driver can be pleased with the team’s progress, or lack of, so far this year. Having placed fourth behind the ‘big three’ in 2018, Renault aimed to reduce its deficit to the front runners this year. Instead the midfield have caught them up. Renault have been ‘best of the rest’ just twice, both times courtesy of Ricciardo.

Hulkenberg’s disappointment reflects not just the team’s situation this season, but its overall trend since he joined them after 2016.

“I think it’s fair to say that so far this season we can’t be entirely happy with what we have achieved,” he said. “I mean, to start with we had a lot of issues and missed out on results. But, a little bit more disappointing is just where we are in terms of pace, the development rate, it’s not where we really needed it and wanted it to be.

“Behind the expectations this year, so probably maybe, all in all, as well, not entirely happy and if you look across the three years we can’t be entirely happy with everything we’ve done.”

However Hulkenberg brought criticism upon himself after his race-ending crash in the German Grand Prix. The team’s biggest opportunity for a major points haul so far this year was lost when Hulkenberg ran onto the treacherous run-off between the final two corners and skidded into a barrier.

Until that point, he had run impressively well on a slippery track. “There’s a trend in my career in this kind of conditions that I feel comfortable, I’m coping quite well with those conditions, I like them and I’m fast,” he said. “So it was definitely one of the very good efforts up to then.”

Had he converted the opportunity, he could have gone into the summer break leading Ricciardo on points. The latter spoiled his chance of points in Hungary with an unnecessary incident in Q1. As it is, Ricciardo is ahead on every count, though by fairly modest margins.

Hulkenberg’s Germany crash was another of those occasions which made you wonder just how many near-misses with the podium Hulkenberg is going to have. And how many more opportunities to take one Renault is going to offer him.

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Daniel Ricciardo vs Nico Hulkenberg: Key stats

Daniel Ricciardo vs Nico Hulkenberg: Who finished ahead at each round

Daniel RicciardoQ
Nico HulkenbergQ

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Daniel Ricciardo vs Nico Hulkenberg: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time

2019 F1 season

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Author information

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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32 comments on “Ricciardo leading Hulkenberg in close Renault fight”

  1. Remember also when hulk retired in Bahrein was fighting for P5/6 and Ricciardo was going out of the points. However, they are pretty matched.

    1. Danny Ric gave away 4-6 points in Paul Ricard… I like the Hulk and his skills however I think Ric is the better driver.

  2. F1 is such a technical sport that sometimes we tend to deny the existence of luck (or bad luck).
    Verstappen did 360° spins and his car landed straight. Sure he kept calm, but the car could have gone the other direction and he would be zero instead of hero in that race.
    Leclerc and Hamilton went out in the same place, but one got saved. Sure Hamilton’s experience helped him, but luck put him a few meters ahead and front wing was his only damage.
    Senna lost all gears but sixt in Brazil once. He manage to win the race. Sure his skills helped him to keep the speed in those conditions. But the gearbox could have failed entirely. Luck, anyone?
    Schumacher colided with Hill after hitting the wall, damaging his front suspension, and went to win the championship. Had Hill passed him one curve later, things would be different. Luck or bad luck, depending on what side you are.
    Hulkenberg should never enter a casino.

    1. I certainly agree with this.

      For three-quarters of the German GP, Hulk was THE star of the race and Stroll was simply nowhere. A bit of luck for and against in the closing laps and the plaudits went in totally different directions.

    2. So the 360 by max was luck and the crash by lewis was experience. No facts, only opinion.

    3. Verstappen spun on a different position of the track than all others, he was exploring limits where the risk was the least… it all looked quite similar to Brasil in 2016… chosing different lines. The way he catched the car is hardly luck…
      To the general opinion Hulkenberg could have avoided crashing by catching the car better… releasing the brakes could have helped a lot.

      Pushing in the last corner was not done… all who crashed, crashed there

      1. @erikje People understand only what they want… I am stating ALL situations were part luck part skill.
        Most drivers became champion with a certain dose of luck. And some lost It due to bad luck.
        They are all extremely lucky just to be in F1, but sometimes one is more than the others.
        Quote Rosberg, Hamilton, Schumacher. Besides driving at their best, they all had a bucket full of luck to win their FIRST championship.
        Max only won his first race because both Mercedes were out. That’s luck.

        1. @only facts
          “He only won because”…..hmm, he also won because he kept his car on track, he also won because he overtook Vettel, he also won because he kept Raikkonen behind.
          Following your logic means every win is down to luck;
          Lucky to be driving the fastest car, lucky not to crash, lucky to be in F1, etc etc.
          So, am I watching a game of skill or are we simply throwing a dice?

          1. @Oconomo I wrote It assuming people read the whole thing from the begining. Not your case, I guess… “People understand what they want to understand…”
            You are watching a game of skill, nerves, budget and the unexpected (If you don’t like to call It luck). That’s why is so interesting.
            F1 drivers are all excellent. Max is showing himself to be the Full package. But he would not drive pass the two Mercedes that day just by merit. He had the skills, the nerves, but not the car to win. Not taking any merit from his drive. He was going to be an impressive third place in his first race for RBR, beating the Ferraris and stuff. But he got lucky…

          2. ““He only won because”…..hmm, he also won because he kept his car on track, he also won because he overtook Vettel, he also won because he kept Raikkonen behind.” – He overtook VET? Why not add he was overtaken by VET in the first place? And keeping RAI behind on a track notorious for the lack of overtaking, really? Wow, what a feat. The more bc the RB was, and is, the fastest car in s3 at that track.

            The main reasons he won that day were:
            ROS DNF’d
            HAM DNF’d
            RB wanting to get the headlines and so decided to immolate RIC, who was leading the entire race until the change of thought and who was much faster, by means of strategy.

        2. Max only won his first race because both Mercedes were out. That’s luck.

          no thats fantasy ;)
          Maybe you should change your name: “only ficion”

          1. erikje, Verstappen was eight tenths of a second behind Rosberg and more than a second slower than Hamilton in qualifying, and Red Bull had not looked faster than Mercedes during the practise sessions either.

            Realistically, without a collision between the two Mercedes drivers, I would say that it is pretty reasonable to assume that one of those two drivers would have won the race instead of Verstappen – his long run stints in the practise sessions had indicated Red Bull wouldn’t have had the outright pace to match Mercedes.

          2. @anon, of course the merc would be the logical winners. But that is not how f1 works. You have to finish, to finish first.

        3. What about Max did a better job than both Mercedes drivers that day in 2016….?
          Overall luck is part of the game… Rosberg was lucky to have less DNF’s in 2016, Dan the same in 2017.

          It’s not always the best drivers that win or loose…though is others crash than they simply fell short…

          1. “Dan the same in 2017.” – Ricciardo had far more car-dnf’s than max.

            “It’s not always the best drivers that win or loose” – In this instance (’16-’18), the best driver, RIC, did win though.
            ’16: no competition
            ’17: despite far more out-of-driver’s-control DNFs, RIC massively outscored max. No competition really.
            ’18: despite more out-of-driver’s-control DNFs, RIC was leading max until he announced he was leaving the team. And despite 8 to 1 out-of-driver’s-control DNFs and leaving the team, he still outperformed max 7-5 in quali when a comparison made sense and 9-3 in total GPs.

      2. “Verstappen spun (..) he was exploring limits where the risk was the least” – He said himself that wasn’t the case at all. He simply spun and in fact was complaining to his team they chose the wrong tyres.

        (..) it all looked quite similar to Brasil in 2016… chosing different lines. – ‘Brazil 2016’ with regard to max, was simply a case of being in the right car on the right tyres with the right temperature on the right time, where everybody else wasn’t, and giving up many places to slower cars, so it all looked good. Hamilton won and Rosberg got 2nd.

        Keep on dreaming.

        1. It seems you do not like Ver and.
          No problem, but a bit one sided. Try to enjoy f1 more.

    4. I’ve heard a phrase:
      Luck is purely where preparedness meets opportunity.

  3. Ricciardo had quite the hill to climb getting used to a totally different (slower) car. I don’t think the Hulk was all that impressed with it either, he did not seem comfortable. Going on the performance of the Mclaren the Renault chassis must be a bit of a pig. I think as Ricciardo settles into the team more I would expect him to increase his advantage over the Hulk. Not that the Hulk is not a bloody good driver, he just doesn’t seem to be able to quite hold it together.

    But Renault really really need to GET THEIR BLOODY ACT TOGETHER!
    Better now :))

    1. But Renault really really need to GET THEIR BLOODY ACT TOGETHER!

      Channelling your inner Horner, I see. :) @johnrkh

      1. I wonder how they can be so clueless (did I spell that right?) in developing their car. They have at least personnel, budget and drivers that equal or surpass all the midfield. As Ciryl likes to state, they are the largest manufacturer in F1, so they have the resources.
        Maybe they are having their Williams moment. Somebody needs to clear the desk before they start to improve.

        1. Only Facts!
          Yep I agree someone should be kicking heads over this, Renault are the the biggest manufacturer in F1 by a considerable margin. They have considerable resources at their disposal, very deep pockets and quite a good history of F1 triumphs. Also Renault are one of the original car companies with a long history of successful motor racing behind them.
          I would think the board and the share holders may be asking a few hard questions about the worth of this campaign.

          1. @johnrkh, it is more accurate to state that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is probably the largest manufacturer, though that then depends on how exactly you then define the production figures. Furthermore, being in an alliance does complicate Renault’s ability to draw on resources and expertise across the group, especially given that the relationship between Nissan and Renault has become more strained in recent years.

            By itself, Renault probably actually has less resources than Daimler AG, which is the parent company of Mercedes-Benz – Renault might produce slightly more vehicles, at 4 million versus 3.4 million, but in terms of revenue Daimler AG has a turnover about three times higher than that of Renault (€167 billion versus €57 billion).

          2. Anon
            What you have attempted to do is separate the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi as if they are separate companies and yes they are listed separately on the stock exchange. But that is a very simplistic way to approach the arrangement. They have set up a joint board controlling them ‘The strategic management company’ based in the Netherlands.
            But Renault own over 43% of Nissan making them the largest single shareholder with full voting rights, giving Renault effective control over Nissan. Yes there has been some disagreement among some board members and upper management, but Renaults control was recently shown again when Nissan wanted to create committees within the Nissan’s board of directors that would oversee appointments of managers and scrutinize company finances, this was vetoed by Renault until Nissan agreed to include Jean-Dominique Senard and Thierry Bolloré.
            As far as Renault’s ability to draw on resources and expertise across the group
            the fact that as a group they purchase parts and materials and are involved in dozens of joint ventures particularly in the EV sector show they share multiple technological information and resources. As a group they have significant ventures in Brazil, Russia, India, China, Sth Korea and Morocco.
            So Sales for 2018 10,756,875
            Turnover 5.7B€

      2. @phylyp Oh good onya :))

  4. Renault have been a huge disappointment, no doubt about it. More often than not, the pace simple hasn’t been there. But they have also left a lot of points on the table through errors and misfortune.

    They’ve lost big points in Bahrain (reliability), Monaco (strategy), France and Germany (driving mistakes). Ric has also had uncharacteristic errors early on in Aus and Baku.

    If their luck turns they could still finish strong, but their lack of genuine pace is going to keep them under constant pressure and 4th place currently looks a long way away…

  5. I don’t know the kind of pressure they are facing to get results this year, but it seems like the obvious plan would be to scrap 2019 and go full throtlle 2020. Ricciardo must be giving a lot of input regarding the chassis.

    1. It would mean nothing if they don’t know where to develop.
      The current upgrades are not working as they had hoped, so if they focus on next years car now, how do they know it’ll be any better?

  6. Renault have one of the closest driver pairings, both in terms of experience and skill. Sure, one has won races, but then he’s been in a race-winning car.

    The real failing of Renault has been as a team, exacerbated by the fact that a customer team who is using their engine for only the second season, with an entirely new driver line-up, and coming off the back of one of their worst seasons, Honda years notwithstanding.

  7. I just wanted to say it is a nice touch in these articles to have the driver stat graphics be colored by the team colors. Yellow for renault, black for haas and silver for merc etc..

  8. What about the team orders?

  9. Is it only me that expected more from Ricciardo, I thought HUL was going to have a really tough season when RIC entered the team. I didnt expect them to be that close, with HUL outracing RIC at several occasions.

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