Vasseur: Renault has signed a “real leader” in Hulkenberg

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Renault Sport F1 team principal Frederic Vasseur has hailed new signing Nico Hulkenberg, calling the German a “real leader” in a Q&A with the team’s official website heading into the United States Grand Prix weekend.

Hulkenberg was freed from his contract at Sahara Force India last week and signed with Renault in a multi-year deal.

While Hulkenberg hasn’t measured up, points-wise, to Sergio Perez in the pair of drivers’ three years with Force India, many still rate Hulkenberg as one of the overall top talents on the grid.

And with Renault, he looks set to enter in 2017 as clear team leader, while the identity of his teammate gets sorted.

“Nico is one of the drivers that has really made his mark, with in particular a GP2 title in his first year in the series. Only three drivers have done this so far: Nico, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton,” Vasseur told the official Renault website. “He has succeeded in everything in his career to date, including Le Mans.

“He is also a real leader and able to motivate a team and take the troops with him.

“He has a lot of experience and is very fast; that is very important for us in this stage of our development. From a technical perspective, an experienced and conscientious driver can give precious feedback as well as knowing exactly what they want from the car.

“This allows the team to work fast and efficiently. We are really happy to have him with us.”

Vasseur also hailed the recent performance improvements of the Renault RS16, as both Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer have scored in recent rounds in Singapore and Malaysia. They’ve edged ahead of Toro Rosso and are fighting McLaren, so they’ve been better in recent races, albeit not fully where they need to be.

“In Japan we overtook Toro Rosso and McLaren and were much closer to Williams than we have been in the past, so we have raised our level in the race,” he said.

“What is clear is that we need to improve in qualifying to have a stronger baseline with which to start the race, and then hopefully the results will follow.”

Renault – as Lotus – scored in last year’s mixed wet-dry United States Grand Prix when Pastor Maldonado came home in eighth place.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing

Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.