Nico Hulkenberg left Brazil with a feeling of frustration. But the German heads to Abu Dhabi in a determined and fired up frame of mind, as he eyes up a bright finish to the 2018 season with plenty still to play for.
What’s the Yas Marina Circuit like to drive?
Nico Hulkenberg: Yas Marina is a really enjoyable circuit and the facilities there are probably the best of the season. The lap is quite long and strange in a way as it’s difficult to find a rhythm. Getting comfortable with the contrasting corner combinations is important for a fast lap time. Finding a good balance and harmony is also vital as the corners are different through the three sectors, so it’s about getting accustomed and nailing it. The circuit looks more suited to our package than Interlagos, and we head there expecting to be competitive and in the points.
What’s there to say about the high stakes in Abu Dhabi?
NH: Abu Dhabi has been the scene of the season finale for the last couple of years and it’s definitely a good venue to round off the year. There’s a lot at stake for the team in the Constructors’ Championship. Last year it went down to the wire and, while this season we have more of a points cushion, we go there knowing there’s a job to do and anything can happen. I’m looking forward to it, though, and I’m aiming for solid points to end a memorable season on a positive note.
What’s the Hulk’s verdict on 2018?
NH: On a whole, 2018 has been a good building year. My second season with Renault was always about progression and continuing the journey the team has outlined. The start of the season was excellent and we more than deserve to finish fourth in the Constructors’. We’ve been the fourth quickest car out there for much of the year, so we just need to finish the job off in Abu Dhabi now. As a racing driver, you’re always pushing for better results. While we’ve scored some outstanding finishes, there’s that desire for more which will be the next step for us.
How do you reflect on Brazil?
NH: It was a disappointing race weekend, but sometimes it plays out like this. We retired as a precaution with the engine looking like it was overheating and it wasn’t worth the risk carrying on. There’s a lot to play for in Abu Dhabi, so it was probably the most sensible approach. We’ll be giving it everything we’ve got.
Carlos Sainz will wear the black and yellow colours for the final time this year in Abu Dhabi. After scoring 51 points from 24 outings to date, the Spaniard is aiming to leave the team as he started in October 2017… by scoring solid points.
What do you enjoy about Abu Dhabi?
Carlos Sainz: I quite enjoy these races under the lights. Yas Marina is a nice circuit with incredible facilities and it’s a great location for the season finale. It’s cool to start the race in daylight and finish it under the night sky, I really like that. In terms of a lap, there’s a lot going on. There are long straights, which bring overtaking opportunities, fast sweeping corners and also some tight turns. We’ll be doing our homework to ensure we’re best prepared and can hit the ground running right from Friday practice.
What are the expectations for Abu Dhabi?
CS: I’m definitely looking forward to Abu Dhabi as it will be an interesting finale. We would like a bit more performance from the car for the last race and I know the team is working hard to get back into the points there. Hopefully it will be a good last race for the team and I can end this spell on a really bright note.
How much have you enjoyed your time with Renault?
CS: I’ve really enjoyed my time with Renault over the past 14 months. They say Enstone has a family feel and I felt at ease and very welcome from day one. To drive for a manufacturer team is a dream come true and I’m very proud to be part of the history of such an important brand in Formula 1. On track, the results have been good on a whole, very consistent and that’s something I can be proud about. As a driver, I take with me very valuable experiences and I’m looking forward to staying part of the Renault family with McLaren next season. We still have this final race to focus on and that’s all I’m thinking about at the moment.