He says the French team is focussed on making a big step forward, but until pre-season testing comes around in February, they don’t really know.
“It’s always really hard [to predict],” Hulkenberg admitted.
“It’s all speculation. We know what we do and I know it sounds not bad, but we’re in the dark as to what the others find.”
With new regulations for 2019, including new front and rear wings, teams are working on how to get the best out of the rules.
It could be that one team interprets the rules slightly differently to another, and they have an advantage come Melbourne in March.
“Obviously the new front wing is kind of a soft reset for next year, as it’s quite different for the cars,” the German added.
“It’s really hard to gauge.”
After finishing in P4 in the Constructors’ Championship this season, the German was pleased with their improvements.
However, he believes that the team, who have signed Daniel Ricciardo up for the next few years, have a long way to go yet.
“We need to eat a lot of the gap away and eat into it. As a factory team, we need to aim at making a big step,” he admitted.
“But of course that’s where need to go, what we need to aim at. I think we’ve made a lot of good progress in a lot of areas.
“Especially in team structure, and putting the team in the right place to grow and to build in the next two years.
“But on the technical side, development side – just on the car – this year was not quite up to our ambitions and what we were looking for.
“That’s something we have to work on and get better at next year. But I think overall last year P6, now P4 – I think that’s a healthy and good development.”