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Hulkenberg aims to cut gap to top teams 'in half'

Nico Hulkenger, Renault
© XPB 

Nico Hulkenberg believes that Renault's 2018 car should be able to halve the gap to the front-running teams this season.

"If we manage to cut the gap to the top teams in half then we will have done a good job," said Hulkenberg.

"The top three teams will continue to be at the front," he conceded. "Then I hope it is us and McLaren.

"It will be interesting to see what Force India can do again," he added.

McLaren is joining the Renault line-up of customer teams after a disastrous three-year collaboration with Honda. It means the Renault works team faces extra pressure to prove itself in 2018.

"We are not bad ourselves," Hulkenberg insisted. "I don't think we have to hide from them."

Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul believed that the increased competition would only be a help in the longer term.

"We cannot run away from these teams if we want to be world champions," he told Auto Motor und Sport at this week's launch of the R.S.18.

"We can also learn from our customers," he pointed out. "Red Bull in aerodynamics and organisation, and McLaren on the mechanical side."

Abiteboul added that the manufacturer had successfully tackled last year's power and reliability issues.

"Last year, we could not exhaust the engine's potential because of fears about reliability," he admitted. "But now we can."

Hulkenberg said he was looking forward to having a fair fight on a level playing field with Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso.

But the German driver insisted that he wasn't tempted to follow Alonso's example by racing in dual championships.

"It's not just the extra races," the 2015 Le Mans winner explained. "Fernando has to test and also be in the factories, both Toyota and McLaren.

"It will be quite a nice burden for him but I didn't really want to do it that myself."

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