Nico Hulkenberg is relishing the move from Force India to Renault, likening the change to having a new girlfriend after a long marriage, but at the same time is wary that it could be tough going with his new team in 2017.
Hulkenberg told the official F1 site, “After my long ‘marriage’ with Force India I felt I needed a new girlfriend!”
“Jokes aside, I am deeply grateful to Force India and left on an absolute high note. We had the most successful year in the history of Force India: P4 in the constructors’ championship. That almost felt like dreaming the impossible dream – and the dream came true!”
“Nevertheless, I am convinced that switching to a works team is the right step for me to achieve new successes. Both Renault and myself are challengers with good potential.”
As for his expectations with Renault, the first works team he has raced for, Hulkenberg said, “This year I believe the cards will be reshuffled a little due to the regulation changes [in F1], so it could be a good opportunity for us.”
“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.
“We want to be an ambitious contender and good for a few surprises in 2017. But as I said, 2017 will be a year of transition for us. Give us some time and celebrate with us if we are faster than anticipated.”
Hulkenberg was one of several drivers who may have been under consideration by Mercedes in the wake of Nico Rosberg’s unexpected retirement, but he says the option was not on his radar, “Given the situation as it was at that very moment, there was no thought of a switch in any way or form as I was already in love with my new ‘girlfriend’ Renault.”
For Hulkenberg the season has already started, “For me personally it has been the shortest break for years and I am already back in the gym every day. I want to start the season in perfect shape: the new regulations will make the cars faster, so more demanding for drivers, and I want to be ready for that.”
“2017 will be an exciting year and I am looking forward to all the new stuff and challenges,” added the German who in 115 grand prix starts has yet to finish on the podium.