Following its difficult return to Formula 1 in 2016 as a works effort, Renault realized that an experienced driver was a necessity rather than a luxury.
Hulkenberg was thus signed to a multiyear deal from Force India, replacing Kevin Magnussen, a choice which Bell sees as a perfect fit for Renault given its long term ambitions of returning to the front of the grid.
"Nico will bring a very clear sense of direction in terms of where we need to take the car from a driver's perspective," Bell explained to Autosport.
"He's not going to tell us what shape to make the front wing but he'll be very clear about what we need to do to, what characteristics from the driver's perspective the car needs.
"We're moving to different tyres next year and to have someone of his experience will very much help us deal with that transition.
"His experience will help with how to get the best out of them and how to manage. So those are two areas where he could play a really critical role.
"And of course he'll be a focal point for the team to help motivate everybody and pull everybody forward."
Asked whether Renault's season would have been less troublesome had Hulkenberg been on hand to help the team as soon as last year, Bell didn't believe it would have changed much.
"It probably wouldn't have been all that valuable in 2016 to be honest. But this year as we take another step forward, we're now into the territory where we need an experienced driver, one of his calibre to help us get the most out of that step we will take.
"He will help really ground us in terms of our understanding of where we are and what we need to do to move forward. He's going to be a very key element in the season for us."