Renault F1 team wants iconic driver-team association with Hulkenberg

Renault wants to forge an iconic driver-team link with Nico Hulkenberg, similar to that which Lewis Hamilton has with Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel had with Red Bull in Formula 1

Renault F1 team wants iconic driver-team association with Hulkenberg

Hulkenberg has joined the French manufacturer from Force India for the 2017 season, as the outfit bids to make progress following a difficult return as a works team in 2016.

The German is yet to achieve a podium finish in Formula 1, but Renault's managing director Cyril Abiteboul insisted Hulkenberg has the speed and potential to become a central part of his company's future F1 programme.

"It is extremely exciting because he is exactly the type of character that we wanted to have," Abiteboul told Autosport's sister brand Motorsport.com.

"We have the opportunity of having someone who is very experienced - who along with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton has been at that level in the junior series - but is not associated to another car manufacturer, or another big team.

"People say he has a low profile, but to us it is a great opportunity because a driver is not just a driver.

"We think we have a great driver in Nico, but he also has the capacity because it is a long-term project; to make him a great ambassador for Renault and to have a very strong association, just like you have a strong association with Lewis and Mercedes.

"Even today I believe a lot of people continue to associate Sebastian Vettel with Red Bull.

"I hope in a couple of years down the road, if we are successful together, that people will associate Nico and Renault.

"But first thing comes first, we have to do the job."

NO DRIVERS TURNED RENAULT DOWN

Abiteboul added that while the team held informal talks with a host of other drivers including Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz, none of those turned down the chance to race for Renault.

Instead, they were unable to make a move due to existing contractual commitments.

"There is something that has been misrepresented in my opinion, and it is that some drivers have turned away offers made by Renault," added Abiteboul.

"I guarantee you that no one has turned down any of our offers. I would say it is quite the opposite.

"Some people made representations that they were free to contract with us, when it was not the case.

"I want to be clear about that, because people say that the Renault project is not attractive enough, that the ambition is not there, or that the financial resources are not there. It is not true.

"Frankly, we have had a lot of interest and Nico was among the top choices, so we are very happy that he is joining us."

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