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Hulkenberg out to reduce gap to F1's front-runners

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Nico Hulkenberg will set his sights on keeping Renault's rivals in check in Bahrain and on the challenging task of reducing the gap with F1's front-runners.

In Melbourne, at F1's curtain-raiser, the French team scored its first double-points finish since its return to Grand Prix racing as a works team.

Hulkenberg brought his R.S.18 home in seventh place, three spots ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz. The German driver qualified the team's inaugural race as successful but more progress must be achieved.

"It was a straightforward race and successful for us. It was a strong weekend and I was pleased by our good race pace. I felt good out there and it’s a solid result," said the Hulk.

"Overtaking was very difficult as the cars are aero sensitive and the speeds are so high.

"Seventh was probably a fair result for us; we would have been higher barring the unfortunately timed virtual safety car.

"We have to keep working and make sure we beat the teams around us.

"We’ve sent out a positive message from Enstone and Viry, but we need to reduce the gap to the front and that’s the challenge."

The German driver, who enjoyed a points finish in Bahrain in 2017, is a fan of the Sakhir circuit. He underscores however a few of the venue's specific challenges.

"The Bahrain International Circuit is a great facility in the middle of the desert," he adds.

"The track itself is quite technical with the natural elements adding a few further challenges, most notably the wind. I really enjoy Bahrain as the heat is guaranteed and the atmosphere is always good to experience.

"You take a smooth and gentle approach to the track in Bahrain, while, of course, being as fast as possible. We joke about it being in the middle of the desert, but sand is a genuine element we have to consider in our preparation.

"If it’s windy it gets blown on to the track, so it can vary a lot from one session to another.

"You’re always adapting to the grip levels as well as the wind direction, which you need to suss out to get that perfect lap.

"My qualifying lap last season was as close to perfect as possible, even on par with the 2010 Brazil one.

"Hopefully we can repeat that this season and put ourselves in a good place ahead of next Sunday’s race."

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