The French manufacturer’s take-over of Lotus at the end of 2015 and its subsequent 2016 campaign led to challenging times for the former world champions.
But it knew from the outset that a move up the ranks was always going to be part of programme spanning several years.
New recruit Hulkenberg, who joined Renault from Force India on a multi-year basis, is expecting more of the same next season.
“I think next year is still a build-up year. We have to be realistic,” Hulkenberg said.
“This year they come from a pretty difficult year, and obviously when they bought the team last year they were in a very tricky situation, especially at the beginning of the season.
Hulkenberg is setting any specific targets for 2017 in terms of race results, although running consistently in the points is eventually what he’ll be looking for.
“They didn’t do much in terms of development of this car [RS16], so I hope next year is a little bit better already. But I don’t expect to be there in the top six straight away, even top 10 is going to be challenging.
“These things take long – to build an infrastructure back up and get good people back on board and develop the car.”
F1 is in the process of a change of ownership, with the US-based Liberty Media Group hoping to complete its takeover of the sport by the end of the first quarter in 2017.
The move has led to questions about how F1 can improve its offering to fans, with Liberty keen to expand the sport in the United States.
Hamilton believes there is much more that can be done in promoting the sport and points American sports as examples of what F1 should be looking to learn.
“The way Formula One is run is not good enough at the moment,” Hamilton told TIME magazine. “The Super Bowl, the events Americans do, the show they put on is so much, so much better. So if you were to mix in a little bit of that template through there, I think we’d be more inviting to the fans.”
In the same piece, Hamilton reveals his surprise at how little an impact F1 has had in the States, even if he appreciates why it could be more appealing to that market.
“So many people I meet in America ask me, ‘What’s Formula One?’ What, do you live in a shoe box? Haven’t you at least heard of it?”
Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement after winning the drivers’ championship has left one of the most sought-after seats on the grid available for 2017.
Mercedes has made an approach for Valtteri Bottas but could still end up promoting youngster Pascal Wehrlein, with a number of drivers out of contract at the end of next season.
Ricciardo, however, has ruled himself out of the next round of driver speculation, saying he will be with Red Bull at least until the end of his current contract.
“I’ve got two more years at Red Bull,” Ricciardo told the Australian Associated Press. “That’s where I’m going to be.
“There’s a lot of people that are tempted to jump into that [Mercedes] seat, and you don’t blame them. I just hope whoever gets it appreciates it. It’s a damn good one. But for me, you’ll see me at Albert Park in a Red Bull.”
Ricciardo has won four races over the past three seasons with Red Bull, becoming one of the most highly-rated drivers on the grid after getting the better of Sebastian Vettel in 2014. The Australian finished third in the drivers’ championship behind Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton last season.