Hülkenberg: “quite a bit of optimism” for strong Sochi finish

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17.
Bahrain Grand Prix, Sunday 17th April 2017. Sakhir, Bahrain.

Nico Hülkenberg has said he is feeling confident that he and the Renault team can secure a good result in this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, following a fruitful outing at the last race in Bahrain.

Hülkenberg claimed his and Renault’s first points of 2017 at the Sakhir International Circuit two weeks ago, finishing in ninth place after another strong qualifying performance saw him start from seventh for the second race in succession.

He then went on to record the sixth-fastest time at the post-race Bahrain test, just a few tenths off the Williams of Felipe Massa as Renault evaluated new updates to the RS17.

“I have quite a bit of optimism,” Hülkenberg said, regarding the forthcoming Russian Grand Prix. “I think we made good progress to enable us to improve our race pace when testing in Bahrain and we have some new bits for the car to facilitate this too.

“Of course, the Sochi Autodrom is a completely different circuit [to Sakhir], so we can’t accurately predict our performance until we get there, but I’m feeling positive.”

Expanding on the work Renault conducted in Bahrain, Hülkenberg added: “We want more downforce and to improve the car aerodynamically and to use the tyres better in the race. The car is basically good, it’s just a number of details we need to improve.”

His teammate Jolyon Palmer has also praised the development of the RS17, despite settling for a “frustrating” thirteenth-place finish in Bahrain, saying “There’s definitely been progress, but there’s certainly more to come.

“Getting into the top ten in qualifying for the first time in Bahrain was particularly satisfying,” the Briton reflected. “I’d struggled a lot in the FP3 session, so myself and my engineer, Chris Richards, sat down and we changed the set-up of the car so it worked far better.

“The real positive is that the team is taking a step forward at every race so we’re hopeful that Sochi continues in this vein.”

Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17.
Bahrain Grand Prix, Friday 14th April 2017. Sakhir, Bahrain.

James Matthews, Deputy Editor

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