All of the focus has been on the Sergio Perez side of the Force India garage with the idea of a potential move for 2017, but it his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, who will be leaving the team at the end of this season.
Renault have just acquired a very capable driver with bags of F1 experience. On the move, Hulkenberg said,
“I’m very happy to join Renault Sport Formula One Team in 2017. Renault has always been a big player in the motorsport world that brings up incredible memories : in his stint with Renault, Michael Schumacher not only helped make 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.
It has always been my dream to work for a manufacturer team. F1’s new regulations will change the game and give our team a good opportunity. In the years to come, Renault will play a challenger role, which fits my approach to racing 100%. I can’t wait to become part of the family.
For the remaining races this year, I will give my best for Force India to reach fourth place in the constructors’ championship. 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.”
– Nico Hulkenberg
— Nico Hülkenberg (@HulkHulkenberg) October 14, 2016
Somehow, the podium has eluded the German driver in his F1 career so far, will Renault be able to step up next season and provide a car that can challenge for these 1995 Benneton-Renault Schumacher-like results?
This move has opened up the driver market for 2017 though and silly season feels like its in full-swing. With this announcement, at least one of Renault’s current drivers won’t be with the team next season. There are still rumors aplenty connecting Kevin Magnussen with a Haas drive so where does this leave Jolyon Palmer? Manor driver and young Frenchman Esteban Ocon is still on for a move to Renault so is the British driver out of the picture? Palmer recently stated that,
“I want to be with Renault [in 2017] and I know that if I am we’ll have a more competitive car. I’ve learned a lot this year, it’s been tough. But I think I’m driving not too bad overall, maybe with a few too many mistakes, but I’m a rookie and I think that’s to be expected over the course of a 21-race year.”
– Jolyon Palmer
It’s a cut-throat culture in F1 in which results and sponsorship are the deciding factors. Palmer and Magnussen have had a difficult season mainly because the Renault team have been pouring resources heavily into next year’s revival. It would be a shame to lose Magnussen or Palmer without each driver being able to show their real potential.
Another question arises about who will partner Sergio Perez at Force India next season in a team that is expecting to be up there for another year mixing it with the big players. Pascal Wehrlein could be a likely candidate. Force India are a Mercedes-powered team and the young German has done more than enough at Manor to draw attention and impress.