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.