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Nico Hulkenberg didn’t consider Mercedes F1 switch for 2017

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Nico Hulkenberg did not consider joining Mercedes for the 2017 Formula 1 season following Nico Rosberg’s shock departure, saying he remained committed to new team Renault.

Hulkenberg announced in October that he would be leaving Force India after three full seasons to join Renault, replacing the Haas-bound Kevin Magnussen.

The German was linked with a move to Mercedes following Rosberg’s decision to quit just five days after clinching his maiden F1 title in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Hulkenberg said that he did not consider backing out of his Renault deal, even when Mercedes came calling.

“Given the situation as it was at that very moment, there was no thought of a switch in any way or form,” Hulkenberg said.

“I was already in love with my new ‘girlfriend’ Renault.

“For sure it is a pity that Nico will not be back to defend his title. But I am also sure he knew what he was doing.

“For me – always the pragmatic person that I am – it will mean no more lifts to grands prix in his plane: that really sucks…”

Renault returned to F1 as a constructor in 2016 after six years away, but struggled to make much of an impression, scoring just three top-10 finishes through the season.

Hulkenberg is confident that the team can fare better in 2017, with the revision of the technical regulations offering it an opportunity to move up the grid.

“This year I believe the cards will be reshuffled a little due to the regulation changes, so it could be a good opportunity for us,” Hulkenberg said.

“We at Renault are working hard to catch up so we can put ourselves in a position where we can score some points.

“Of course people are excited about my move to Renault – so am I. In fact I am very excited and super motivated to start to work with my new team.

“But at the same time we have to be careful not to expect too much right away: we have to work hard – harder and better to catch the train back up.”

MRTI: Juncos signs Carlos Cunha for Pro Mazda campaign

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Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.

Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.

“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”

Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”

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