Nico Hulkenberg says he’s warmed to Carlos Sainz Jr joining him at Renault and believes he’ll be key to bring the team’s development forward to close the gap to the top three teams in 2018.

Sainz was switched from Toro Rosso to Renault ahead of the United States Grand Prix at the expense of Jolyon Palmer, with the Spanish driver being loaned to the French manufacturer by Red Bull for the final four races of this season and the 2018 campaign.

While Hulkenberg is still seen as the lead and experienced driver at Renault the German has embraced his new team-mate and believes Sainz will be able to step up the team’s progress alongside him.

“Sainz is a nice guy, open and relaxed. We've a good atmosphere working together,” Hulkenberg said. “Since he has come on board he's also been pushing quite hard and telling the team where to focus, and it's exactly what Renault needed, so it’s quite positive.

“He's in his third season, so he's still very young, hungry, pushing very hard. It's good to have a driver that is close, you are pushing each other, not just from a driving point of view, but also in terms of what you explore with the car with set up, with development of the car. It's necessary to have two drivers that push team.”

Hulkenberg has also reiterated his faith in Renault’s goals to return to the top of Formula 1 in the long term which acts as his motivation within the sport.

“I'd love to be here winning races and fighting for podiums but it's not so easy to be in that position,” he said. “I have a really good project here with Renault, with the possibility and the vision to achieve that, so that really motivates me and makes me look forward to the future.”

Renault currently sits seventh in the F1 world constructors' championship with two rounds remaining to secure its goal of fifth place in the championship but trails Williams by 28 points.

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