Some would say that Nico made a strange move to jump ship from the 4th best team in F1 to one that floundered, for the most part, near the back of the mid field. But in front and behind the scenes you have to look beyond that and try to surmise who will be good in the future(one things for sure you don’t want to go to Alonso for any tips!).
The Hulk is a very good driver and from what I’ve seen of him, when I’ve been at the races, I think he can really meld with a car well and be able to squeeze that little bit extra through confidence and ability to move the car through mid corner with ease and momentum.
We have not seen the best of him but to do that we need him in a race winning car. This, for me, is why he made the right decision, at least now with a manufacturer the funding and technical depth has the potential to finally get him on the podium, its a sorry state of affairs that he has not done so years ago.
So now he must really grab this team by the whatssits, make it his own and lead the charge to the pointy end of the grid. The car looks great (uniforms not so much) and the power unit seems to be edging ever closer to parity with Ferrari and of course Mercedes. I think they will have some really good races and hopefully Nico can have a stab at one of those top 3 positions, but even if not as long as they have some races where they show really well and be vying for at least 5th in the championship I would call it a job well done.
If what I predicted earlier happens and he is joined by Romain Grosjean next year, he really must make his presence known so he doesn’t lose hierarchy in the team. That being said when a team is in the lower ranks team play is usually in a better place and I think both Jolyon and Romain would work well with him to help all have a more competitive package. So sometimes you take one step back to move forward, I think both Nico and Renault have a great chance in doing this.
A bit of a shaky start last year and just when he was about to have his break out race in Hungary he threw it off the road, but all credit to him, he didn’t let that destroy him and he ended up the better driver on the team in the 2nd half of the season.
He may have some backing that helped him stay in the team over Magnussen but I feel his driving performances held some weight in that decision also. Not the most spectacular driver, he seems more at ease running his own race rather than battling it out corner to corner. With a second season he also has experience at every track which will help him, he took a while to really get the speed needed to win the GP2 championship so hopefully the lessons learned in 2016 will aid him in have a better 1st half of the season.
He has now, in my mind a better team mate and if he can go toe-to-toe with Hulkenburg, he really has a chance of staying on the grid in the coming years. In 2017 though he can’t be content with just doing ok he needs to find some opportunities at some tracks where he and the car work well and show that he can really be capable of some special moments that can’t be ignored. He’s got a great chance to break out and surprise, the car will be better and he should be better along with it now, it’s all in his hands but it will demand the upmost of commitment and dedication to F1 2017 to get there.