Nico Hülkenberg continues to build his reputation at Renault – as a strong team leader, one not only capable of wringing the car’s neck in qualifying, but also in the race, for standout results.

His Azerbaijan crash was an uncharacteristic blip, with the German taking a sixth and two sevenths at the first three Grands Prix – reaching the RS18’s maximum at the head of the midfield.

And while Hülkenberg has been solidly achieving on-track… outqualifying his highly rated Spanish teammate Carlos Sainz at all four races so far, he’s also been pushing the team forward behind the scenes.

“Obviously I’ve been with the team now since more than a year. And since race one, and since day one, we’ve been working together. And I’ve given them the feedback of what we need, what the weak areas are –
and that’s obviously the more important subject because that’s the things we need to tackle and improve.”

The German, though, has been a long-term star in the making… 

Hülkenberg stormed out of go-karting with the 2005 Formula BMW ADAC title, followed by race wins in German Formula 3, and the A1GP title. He then won the 2007 F3 masters, 2008 F3 Euro Series title, and 2009 GP2 title. 

He made his F1 debut with Williams the following year, but despite taking a maiden pole position at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix – he was dropped for 2011 to make way for Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado. 

Hülkenberg then endured a journeyman phase, with stints at Force India, and Sauber – before winning the Le Mans 24 Hours with Porsche in 2015, the world’s biggest race revitalising his career.

And while Renault soon came calling, Hülkenberg still retains the record for most career starts without a podium, Azerbaijan marking 139. And it’s the elusive result that continues to haunt him in interviews…

“I will push very hard to achieve that goal, and to climb on the podium and eventually I want to be fighting for victories together with Renault. So we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

For now, Hülkenberg is helping Renault punch above its weight. But with a winning car, there’s no telling what the German could do. He’s shaping up as a solid asset for a team with very lofty ambitions indeed.