Unable to play sports in 2020. And hoping for 2021. Driving slimmer when Renault chose to sign Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg’s hopes for an F1 return soon seemed bleak. And yet this weekend, after Sergio Perez’s positive Covid-19 result, he finds himself on the grid and drives perhaps the most competitive car he has ever had. Here is an amazing story about how the German got back into action with Racing Point at Silverstone …
When did Racing Point approach Hulkenberg?
The issue of Racing Point team director Otmar Szafnauer appeared on Hulkenberg’s phone on Thursday. The German responded and after a few minutes his heart began to beat faster.
He was destined to travel to Germany to do persuasions on the TVL channel. He then had to do a test drive of a GT4 car at the Nurburgring this weekend.
But it is clear that Hulkenberg, who missed the blockade in Mallorca, was thrown unexpectedly back on F1, ironically, his former Force India friend Sergio Perez said.
READ MORE: After Covid-19 test positive, Perez rejects British Grand Prix
All F1 staff are required to perform a PCR Covid-19 test before entering the boulder, a procedure that has been in place since the resumption of the season. Perez did as usual, only this time, his test result was inconclusive.
As required, he distanced himself, as did the few team members he had to interact with, and waited for the results of the retest. Meanwhile, his Racing Point team needed to come up with a contingency plan.
Why a Hulkenberg reserve and not a Mercedes reserve?
Before the season, Racing Point agreed with Mercedes, with whom they have close ties using the engine and several other components, including the gearbox and suspension, to borrow one of their spare drivers in the event of Perez or teammate Lance Stroll not being able to attend. in competition.
Stoffel Vandoorne is unavailable due to his Formula E commitments, and Spanauer has called another reserve, Esteban Gutierrez, as well as Hulkenberg, with whom he already has good relations to check if they are available.
According to the team, Hulkenberg made the most sense for several reasons.
Not only does he know a good portion of the staff who had previously raced for the squad as they rode through the Force India banner, but he also remains a very fast and competitive choice. He is the best driver available in the latest F1 experience, competing for Renault last year with Daniel Ricciardo.
READ MORE: What’s next after Sergio Perez’s positive Covid-19 test
Hulkenberg didn’t leave F1 during the selection and still feels he will have a lot more to offer F1. He first tried to go back to 2021, first with Renault – before they collapsed for Fernando Alonso – and then, presumably, with Alfa Romeo, racing for the team when they were Sauber, and their team boss Fredis Vasseur valued him highly.
When Szafnauer called on Thursday, Hulkenberg was hesitant. He loaded the bag and was on the plane for a few hours. After landing in the UK, he had a Covid-19 test and then drove to the Racing Point plant in front of the seat in Silverstone.
UK 2020: Nico Hulkenberg returns to first practice
Meanwhile, the team started making overalls. Fortunately, it fit – perhaps a little sleekly – into the Strollo pair.
Has Gutierrez ever had a choice?
At the same time that Hulkenberg was traveling, Gutierrez descended his helmet to Silverstone – a Mexican living in London – and sank into a boulder on Thursday night. The 28-year-old has covered thousands of miles in a Mercedes simulator, but is a little rusty in front of the track, racing for the last time in the season-ending 2016. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
But Racing Point’s Plan A was Hulkenberg.
“Nico knows the team much more than Esteban does. During the short time we learned that Checo could not drive and someone who was driving, we had one day that it was important to have someone who understood the team. ” Szafnaueris.
“Nico has been with us for a long time, so he knows the engineer. He’s already been in our simulator, he knows how we work, and it will be key to achieving speed.”
He added: “We had to take him to England, make sure he had no virus, get a super license form – and it’s not that simple yet – you have to go to a contract recognition commission and then a super license.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “It’s Not Like the End”
How was Hulkenberg ready to drive the RP20?
The German is expected to arrive at the track at 8 a.m., three hours before FP1. However, another turn was needed, because at that time Hulkenberg was nowhere to be seen.
It turned out that he did another test that morning and waited for those results. Without it, he was not allowed to enter the track, let alone the sole, as required by the Covid-19 protocols.
A few hours of waiting went on, which gave the team time to fill out the necessary paperwork for Hulkenberg to drive, and allowed the Germans time to spend through protocols, such as spending 45 minutes at the wheel.
When the test center presented some paper, confirming that it was negative, the German rushed to the sole, grabbed the coverall and made a bee line for the garage.
READ MORE: Why Hulkenberg doesn’t regret it, because he is now saying goodbye to F1
Is Hulkenberg facing a challenge?
It’s a huge opportunity for Hulkenberg and one that very few drivers ever have the good fortune to get, especially when it’s a team with the second best car on the grid and competing on the podium this weekend.
It is also in high demand. Silverstone is a fast and demanding chain. Hulkenberg has maintained a good level of fitness, but physically it will be a huge challenge this weekend after spending so much time in an F1 car. Just ask Lando Norris, who suffered a bruise in Austria because there has been no F1 mileage lately.
But Hulkenberg will deal with that. He knows he now has this weekend – and almost certainly another – for Silverstone to achieve his two ambitions: To win the virgin podium after 179 Grands Prix weekends as a racer and to prove to those who have an important sole that he deserves a full-time job. place in 2021