Nico Hulkenberg has joined Renault for the 2017 Formula 1 season in a move that has leaves current drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer knowing that at least one of them will not hold a race seat with the team after the current season draws to a close.
Hulkenberg signed a two-year contract with the French manufacturer with the option of continuing for a third season in 2013. His deal with Renault is being reported by Germany’s Bild to be for three years and $19.8 million.
Renault is looking to bounce back from a trying 2016 season that has seen the team register just eight points from the 17 Grands Prix to date and hit the heights of the 2004 and 2005 seasons where they claimed both the driver’s and constructor’s titles with Fernando Alonso.
Speaking of his move to Renault, Hulkenberg said, “I’m very happy to join Renault Sport Formula 1 Team in 2017. Renault has always been a big player in the motorsport world that brings up incredible memories. In his stint at Renault, Michael Schumacher not only made Germany an F1 nation, he also sparked my enthusiasm and fire for racing. As a part of the Renault family, I want to develop the car and write new success stories.”
Hulkenberg is in the midst of a solid season for Force India. He’s scored 54 championship points, including points for top-10 finishes in seven of the last eight races, and is ninth in the F1 driver standings.
Force India is fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, a mere 10 points ahead of Williams.
“For the remaining races this year, I will give my best for Force India to reach fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship,” Hulkenberg said. “This would be a great achievement for the whole Force India team, the biggest success in its history and a great end to a fantastic time there.
“I am grateful that Force India has given me the chance to take up this new opportunity.”
Hulkenberg began his Formula 1 career with Williams in 2010 and has spent five of the following six seasons a Force India, initially as a test driver before earning his race seat for 2012. In 2013 he moved to Sauber where he regularly outshone teammate Esteban Gutierrez but, with the team not hitting the same heights as in the previous season, the German returned to Force India for another three-year spell.
Yet to claim a podium finish in the sport — he finishing fourth on three occasions — Hulkenberg’s greatest success to date came in his debut season when he scored the first pole position for Williams in over five years, setting the fastest lap in qualifying for the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
Away from Formula 1, Hulkenberg’s career includes a victory as part of the Porsche team in the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hour race.
Renault had made it clear that they wanted an experienced driver to lead the team into the future and Renault Sport Racing chairman Jérôme Stoll said why Hulkenberg is that man.
“2017 will be the second season of Group Renault’s return as a manufacturer entry in Formula 1 and the next step in our journey,” said Stoll. “This season has been about putting the foundations in place for future success. For our next step we required an experienced driver who is still hungry for podiums.”