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Hulkenberg has expressed his delight after sealing a switch to Renault for 2017, revealing he wants to emulate Michael Schumacher’s success with Team Enstone.
After three straight seasons with Force India, Hulkenberg’s departure from the Silverstone-based outfit was confirmed on October 14, with the German signing a multi-year contract to race for Renault from next season.
Schumacher won two of his record seven world championships with Renault—then competing under the name of Benetton—in 1994 and ’95, and Hulkenberg, who has spent much of his F1 career with midfield teams, is hopeful his move to a manufacturer outfit will allow him to achieve success.
And the 29-year-old is convinced next season’s major regulation changes will allow Renault to return to competitiveness—the team have been restricted to just eight points in 2016.
Hulkenberg told the team’s official website:
I’m very happy to join Renault Sport Formula One Team in 2017. Renault has always been a big player in the motorsport world that brings up incredible memories: in his stint with Renault, Michael Schumacher not only helped make Germany an F1 nation, he also sparked my enthusiasm and fire for racing. As a part of the Renault family, I want to develop the car and write new success stories.
It has always been my dream to work for a manufacturer team. F1’s new regulations will change the game and give our team a good opportunity. In the years to come, Renault will play a challenger role, which fits my approach to racing 100 per cent. I can’t wait to become part of the family.
For the remaining races this year, I will give my best for Force India to reach fourth place in the constructors’ championship. This would be a great achievement for the whole Force India team, the biggest success in its history and a great end to a fantastic time there.
I am grateful that Force India has given me the chance to take up this new opportunity.
Renault chairman Jerome Stoll told the same source how a driver as “highly talented, dedicated and motivated” as Hulkenberg will allow the team to “harness all the hard work completed this season and translate it to improved results on track in 2017 and beyond.”
Force India team principal Vijay Mallya paid tribute to Hulkenberg, telling the team’s official website how the German has “become a great friend and contributed a huge amount to the team’s success” since first joining the team in a reserve role at the beginning of 2011.
He added: “While it’s true we will miss Nico, we respect his decision to explore fresh opportunities, and it would be wrong to stand in his way.”
The identity of Hulkenberg’s 2017 team-mate is unclear, with current Renault drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer—as well as Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes protege Esteban Ocon, who is currently racing for Manor—all in contention to partner the German.
Team principal Frederic Vasseur has hinted Renault are hoping to sign the best, most polished drivers available rather than employing a designated No. 1 driver, telling French publication L’Equipe (h/t F1i.com’s Julien Billiotte) how the team intend to have “two team leaders” behind the wheel.
However, Vasseur told the same source it would be complicated to sign Bottas, who he believes is under contract at Williams.