Nico Hulkenberg: Matching Ricciardo important for my F1 future

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Nico Hulkenberg admits it is "important" for his Formula 1 future that he remains competitive against Daniel Ricciardo at Renault this season.

The French manufacturer heads into 2019 boasting one of the strongest line-ups on the grid, made up of two drivers who are yet to achieve what their talent deserves in F1.

For Hulkenberg, his move to Renault two years ago was seen as his final chance to achieve success and now he faces a major fight up against one of the best in the Australian.

"It will be interesting to see if he kicks my ass or not," the German smiled during the launch of the R.S.19 on Tuesday.

"It's great to have a seven-time Grand Prix winner [as my teammate]. It's definitely a good comparison and really interesting."

With more young names emerging and ready to step up, however, the 31-year-old Hulk knows he will have to keep Ricciardo in sight.

"It's obviously going to be a personal challenge for me, to stand up to that and see where I compare against him," he added to ESPN.

"It's very important for my sporting future, we all know the team makes comparisons. But you got to stay relaxed, I'm here and I want to do the best I can for myself, for my career.

"I'm aware it's going to be difficult against him because he's fast, he's smart, he's got everything a good race driver needs. I don't need to hide, but I probably need to bring my best game to be able to challenge him."

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On a more jovial side though, Hulkenberg is already enjoying his relationship with one of F1's biggest characters.

"I’m looking to learn some Aussie slang!" he said during a Facebook Live session.

"I’ve got the basics, we’re just progressing from there. It never gets boring with Riccardo, we’ve had a good amount of laughs already.

"It’s good to get started now, exciting times."