Renault arguably emerged as the biggest winner from Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after leapfrogging Toro Rosso in the final Formula 1 constructors’ standings, securing an uplift in prize money in the process for sixth place.
Renault entered the final race of the year trailing Toro Rosso by four points in the constructors’ standings, with Hulkenberg qualifying seventh on Saturday.
The German was hit with a five-second time penalty for cutting a corner in order to stay ahead of Sergio Perez on the opening lap, but was able to pull clear to make up for it through the opening stint.
Despite a slow pit stop, Hulkenberg held position after serving the penalty and finished six seconds clear of Perez at the checkered flag, bagging eight points for Renault.
With Toro Rosso failing to score after Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly took P15 and P16 respectively, Hulkenberg’s points haul was enough to lift Renault up to sixth in the final standings, clinching the additional prize money in the process.
“I knew that I had the five-second gap over Checo,” Hulkenberg told NBCSN. “I knew that. I made sure in the first stint that I had that.
“When I started to realize the pit stop was a bit longer and that I had some trouble on the rear-left, the rear-right, I was starting to get a bit nervous and starting to sweat.
“When you go down and out of the pit lane out of that tunnel, there is very little grip. It’s just a balancing act. That was a bit of a thriller.
“It was a very interesting first lap, very interesting couple of laps after the stop when I had to get by the Haas which is super-fast on the straight. And obviously I had Checo right behind me waiting to take advantage. But we managed to come out on top.
“Very decent end to the season, decent final result. That sixth position in the constructors, it’s not amazing but it’s good for us. It’s good to have that in our pocket now. I’m sure everyone is pleased and happy about that.”
Asked if the result would also offer a boost to Renault in its second season back in F1 as a constructor, Hulkenberg said: “Yeah it is. It is good to finish with a strong result. It helps everybody.
“We had a good package all of the second season. We just had so many issues as you know. We lost so many results and so many points along the way.
“It’s just about recovering some of what we lost, finishing on a positive note and going into the winter with our chins up.”