Nico Hulkenberg concedes his standard target for any Formula 1 season of beating his teammate becomes a trickier task with Daniel Ricciardo joining Renault this year but is eager to “pay back the trust that Renault have put in me”.

The German driver joined Renault from Force India in 2017 and instantly became the team’s leader in terms of racing experience and points scoring.

The 31-year-old has comfortably outscored both his Renault teammates in that time but accepts with former race-winner Ricciardo entering the other side of his garage it will be a tougher objective.

“It is important for me to have a good year. You say it like it sounds so easy – outperform Daniel. Easy… we will see how things go,” Hulkenberg said about beating his new teammate. “I want to make sure that I perform at my best level and obviously only I can feel and say okay this was everything that I can get out of it.

“Usually in my career so far it was enough to beat the other guy. This year there is new guy next to me, so we will just see how it goes.

“Ricciardo is a tough opponent for me as a teammate, but I look forward to it and am excited for that challenge.

“He is a cool guy, we’ve known each other a long time. We are both experienced enough so we know how to cope with things and get on outside the paddock. We’ve known each other for a couple of years and sometimes do stuff, so it is all good.”

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Since joining the Renault programme, Hulkenberg has seen the French manufacturer grow at a rapid rate both on and off track in its long-term goal of returning to the F1 world title battle.

Last year Renault ticked off its latest target by ending the year fourth place in the F1 world constructors’ championship, and Hulkenberg claimed ‘best of the rest’ in seventh place in the drivers’ standings, with the German driver hoping to maintain the upward momentum alongside Ricciardo to “pay back” his team’s faith.

“I just want to satisfy myself and the team and pay back the trust that Renault have put in me and we just want to keep growing together,” he said. “The other things mentioned [podiums], they will come or not come, it depends so much on are we competitive enough, it is not something that you can steer directly as a driver.”

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