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F1 Japanese GP: Renault targeting Hulkenberg for F1 2017?

Nico Hulkenberg is reportedly nearing a deal that could see him switch from Force India to Renault for the 2017 Formula 1 season.
Nico Hulkenberg could be in line for a shock move to Renault for the 2017 Formula 1 season as the manufacturer reportedly makes a late swoop for the Force India driver.

Renault is known to have made ambitious bids for Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas this year, but with the former now confirmed as staying with Force India and the latter expected to remain with Williams, Hulkenberg is now its next target.

According to reports in the German media, Hulkenberg is already in advanced talks with the manufacturer despite having previously stated he would be staying with Force India for 2017.

However, with Force India having never released an official statement declaring as much, Hulkenberg was relatively non-committal about his future when asked about the looming Renault rumours during the Japanese Grand Prix

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“I think so, yeah,” he replied when he was asked whether he was staying with Force India. “I've heard, seen those rumours. Rumours are rumours, facts are facts,”

When asked whether he 'knows so or thinks so' about staying with Force India for 2017, Hulkenberg responded with 'a bit of both'.

After Bottas, Hulkenberg is now the highest-placed driver potentially available to Renault as it looks to lure an experienced name to its latest F1 project. The French firm returned to F1 as a constructor in 2016 but has struggled for form amidst a reshuffle behind the scenes, difficulties that is believed to be putting off potential targets.

POINTS: The F1 World Championship standings after the Japanese Grand Prix

However, with the engine showing well in the back of the Red Bull and Renault's form picking up in terms of reliability and speed in the last couple of races, it is believed to be establishing a solid foundation going forward.

Such a deal would also allow Hulkenberg to get the factory drive he has long craved having previously raced with Force India, Sauber and Williams. Should he join, youngster Esteban Ocon – who is contracted by Mercedes but has close ties to Renault – is expected to partner him.

As for Force India, with Perez now confirmed for 2017, Mercedes-backed Pascal Wehrlein – who has tested with the team before - would be considered a natural target to replace Hulkenberg potentially as part of an engine deal.

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RDix

October 10, 2016 3:09 PM

A step backwards in performance, probably. A step forward in salary, definitely. Plus Renault would give him a long term opportunity when Force India is in jeopardy of disappearing at anytime due to VJ Mallya's legal problems. A new manufacturer wanting to get involved in F1 would be wise to invest in Force India as they regularly punch way above their weight in terms of performance vs. cost.

MadMatandMe

October 10, 2016 1:06 PM

I think Hulkenburg deserves a crack at a factory drive. He has been in the wrong place at the wrong time in the past when key factory seats have arisen and was unlucky not to land something then. He is not only a very quick driver but he's intelligent, knowledgeable and reliable - three factors that make a quick driver a top 'race' driver, not just a quick qualifier! But is Renault a major factory team yet? That is the real question. I still see them as a very 'French' team - when they are hot, they are hot, but when they're not... But, good luck, Hulk, I hope you get the drive and get the opportunity to prove yourself...or, at least, go down shooting!



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