If you needed a good reference letter and your name was Nico Hulkenberg, then you’d look no further than Your 2018 partner, Carlos Sainz.
“I saw him performing at the highest level I’ve seen I think [anyone] perform in the midfield for years.
“For me he’s one of those guys that you give him a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull he’d win races straight away.
“But unfortunately you guys are not able to see it, not able to calculate it, as Formula 1 works like that.
“Nico is one of those guys that I’ve learned a lot from and I’m going to go to McLaren with that experience, having shared a team with one of the most talented drivers in the grid right now.”
That’s quite and endorsement and Carlos is no slouch himself. The way he handled the Renault when he took over duties from the US Grand Prix onwards two years ago was a sight to behold. I was sure that he would hit the ground running in 2018 and give Nico all the competition he wanted. That didn’t quite develop and it left me wondering if Carlos was struggling with the car all season.
I’ve rated Nico highly ever since he entered F1. He just never got the chance to show his stuff in a top car and team. I’ve heard many rumors as to why that might be the case but suffice it to say, Renault have made the most of it and I applauded their move in hiring him. We said back then that they spent money on the car the first season and began spending money on drivers when they hired Nico. The time was right.
I still rate Nico very highly and wish McLaren and other team didn’t use the excuse that he was too tall to pass on him. I wanted to see him get a good ride and now he may just get one if Renault can make more progress in 2019. He’ll need that performance because now he’s got a strong teammate in the form of Daniel Ricciardo.
Nico was best of the rest in 2018 but there were a few unforced errors that I found concerning and I am sure Nico did as well. Is there a part of brain fade with Nico from time to time or were these moments completely justifiable due to car setup or some other reason?
I’m excited about Renault’s prospects in 2019 and very excited to see how Nico and Dan do. I suspect they will be scoring points with regularity and here is hoping Carlos is right. Let’s hope the car is there and Nico is winning races.
Hat Tip: Autosport