Formula 1's new era better highlights the differences between drivers, according to Cyril Abiteboul.
"The contrast between the drivers is striking," he told French language news agency AFP.
"It highlights the important role played by the driver in a sport where technology is central.
"It is not just about the engine and the car - much is determined by the driver. So first of all there is this competition between drivers and Nico reminds us of that."
While Briton Palmer is struggling, Abiteboul says that German Hulkenberg's current role is vital.
"Nico has an unusual role in the team," said the Frenchman. "He gives us the direction for development, and the priorities for changes to the car.
"We know what to do, but he helps us to highlight the key points and show what is more and less important."
Hulkenberg has picked up 14 points this season, while Palmer is yet to get off the mark.