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Renault duo look ahead to Belgium

NEWS STORY
22/08/2017

Nico Hulkenberg is primed and ready to harness a good balance and equilibrium on a fast and unique Spa circuit.

What are your thoughts on Spa?
Nico Hulkenberg: It's one of my favourite tracks and certainly up there with the best in the world. The forest there is amazing and the track itself sits in some outstanding scenery. It features a lot of elevation and of course, it has Eau Rouge. When you see these bends in real life it's special but when you drive them, especially in a Formula 1 car, it's super special. Eau Rouge is going to be flat which is exciting and Pouhon too will be good and extremely fast.

How difficult is it to put a good lap together?
NH: There are many corners and it's the longest lap on the calendar which makes a good balance very important. It's about putting those sectors together and being on top in every corner, that will give you a good lap time and that's the key challenge of Spa. I like the middle-sector in particular. It's quite busy, flows quite well and is just fun to drive. Spa is known for its strange and random weather, so we have to make it count whether it's wet or dry.

What were your thoughts on the first eleven races?
NH: It's been very encouraging, especially in the last few races. I'm pleased with how the car is feeling and the progress we are making. We are heading in the right direction and are looking competitive, but we want to keep pushing ourselves. It was a shame to finish how we did in Hungary, but in general there are positive feelings. We've found a good balance with qualifying performance and race pace - Silverstone highlighted that - it's at a better level now. This year's cars are fun and faster, allowing me to push harder which suits my driving style a lot more than in recent years.

Spa kick-starts the second-half of the season and Jolyon Palmer is keen to hit the ground running with a bright outing on the legendary circuit.

There are some cool corners at Spa, what are they like to drive?
Jolyon Palmer: The first thing that hits you is Eau Rouge, it's just incredible. You see it on TV, or on the on-boards, and it looks awesome but to drive it is simply immense. Nothing prepares you for heading flat out down the hill and then coming up the other side and down that straight. Pouhon will be an exciting corner this year, it brings a real challenge as it's a very quick double apex left. Blanchimont is flat and leads into the Bus Stop chicane, which is a great overtaking place.

How have you fared in your races in Spa?
JP: I won a race in Spa back in 2008 in the Formula Palmer Audi series. I remember it was wet - which is fairly typical for Spa! I've been on the podium in GP2 there but missed the win in that class. I was on the front row in 2014 in GP2 and had a decent F1 qualifying last year. I've had some good memories but I'm driven to make some more.

How do you sum up the first eleven races?
JP: It's been challenging, but there is definitely good potential from me and the car. The 2017 regulations mean a car that's very different from before, so you have to relearn how to extract the maximum performance from it. Getting the right set-up is difficult and this is compounded when you miss out on track time for whatever reason. I'm looking forward and focusing on my own performance and I'm working hard to understand everything to ensure I have good races.

Did you enjoy the summer break?
JP: It was good to have a bit of chill out time and recharge a little bit. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro which was very tough but also highly rewarding. It was nice to be cut off from the world for a week and see a change of scenery, but I'm ready to get back to work again.

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