Nico Hülkenberg returned to the points in Canada after a superb Sunday performance led to his seventh-place finish. Now the German is aiming for more at this weekend’s French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard, the team’s home race.
What are your thoughts on Circuit Paul Ricard?
I’ve driven a lot of laps there in the past in different machinery, including last year for my first French Grand Prix. The circuit has a nice flow to it and the characteristics are maybe quite similar to the last round in Montréal with long straights, high top-speeds and big braking zones at the end of them. Sector one is quite tight and there was some excitement at Turn 1 on race day last year. Sector two brings a long straight into a sharp chicane and then sector three begins with the very fast run through Signes, which is a lot of fun, and a flowing complex of turns to the start-finish straight.
How special is the team’s home Grand Prix?
It’s obviously very special for Renault and the staff members. Last year was the first French Grand Prix in 10 years and we had a lot of attention on us, but also a lot of support from the French people. I think it was a big success overall and the whole weekend went well. The atmosphere was great in and around the track, which is always cool to see and motivating. We have a spring in our step and a bit of momentum heading into the team’s home Grand Prix. Everyone is carrying that extra level of motivation to do a good job, even more so after a successful race last time out. Hopefully this season we can do even better than last year.
What’s the feeling in the camp after Canada?
Hard work always pays off. It was good to see such a strong team effort and a solid result at the end. We’ve underachieved at previous races, sometimes through technical faults or human error, so I feel we’ve always had the potential for good results, but we haven’t scored points. Finally, we had a smooth and clean weekend to get points on the board. It’s hopefully a turning point in our season. We have some upgrades for this race, I’m excited for those, and hopefully they will add performance to the car to help us close the gap to the front teams. We have a good package; the car is performing consistently and I’m feeling optimistic for Paul Ricard.