Cyril Abiteboul says Nico Hulkenberg got a wake-up call last year.
The German driver began the year as Jolyon Palmer’s teammate, but the Briton was replaced mid-season by Carlos Sainz.
"One thing I recall was when we put Carlos in the car," Renault team boss Abiteboul told Auto Hebdo.
"For the first time I heard Nico say ’What fuel is in the other car?’ ’What tyres does he have?’ ’What’s his power mode?’
"For the first time, he cared about the other car," said the Frenchman.
Still referring to Hulkenberg, he continued: "It did not wake him up, because he’s a competitor who never falls asleep, but it did worry him. And I think that’s what drives him to excel."