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Podium drought may not end in 2019 – Hulkenberg

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Nico Hulkenberg admits it is possible his podium drought could be extended even further in 2019.

The German holds the ignominious record of being the longest-serving driver without a single podium.

“I want to break this spell sooner rather than later,” the 31-year-old told SID news agency.

Once an obvious star of the future, Hulkenberg admits he has basically given up on getting the call-up to Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull.

“Exactly, I’m trying to build a top team myself,” he smiled. “I hope we’ll be ready in a year or two.”

He is talking about Renault, the French works team he joined in 2017.

“We have already made good progress, there has been a lot of investment, but now we want to slowly reap the rewards,” said Hulkenberg.

But it might be too early for podiums this year, he admitted.

“We cannot say with full confidence that we will be on the podium this year,” he said.

He has a new teammate for 2019 in the form of Daniel Ricciardo, who is immediately earning significantly more than Hulkenberg.

Hulkenberg says the signing “underlines how serious Renault is” about succeeding, notwithstanding the “high costs”.

“Having Daniel means the team takes on the responsibility of building an excellent car for him. That is the right step,” he said.

But Ricciardo’s arrival leaves some thinking that Hulkenberg is now essentially the number 2 driver.

Hulkenberg said: “It will be interesting to compete with him. I have not had a duel such as this in my career, and in a way, it will decide my future.”

Team boss Cyril Abiteboul agrees: “Nico’s performance is now really measurable for the first time.”

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