Following Sergio Pérez testing positive for COVID-19, BWT Racing Point Formula One Team’s scramble to find a new driver was a very quick one as the team announced former driver Nico Hülkenberg would be covering for his teammate.
When talking to Sky F1 Otmar Szafnauer talked through the process of “tracking down Nico”, getting his super license, and giving him basic knowledge of the car with 40 minutes of simulator time and of course the struggle of fitting the German into RP20
Hülkenberg flew to the UK Thursday night, however wasn’t allowed into the paddock due to the worry of Nico even passing (well technically failing) his COVID-19 test as per the FIA protocols as it’s a closed event. After passing his Thursday evening test he then had to complete a second test at the Silverstone testing base on the outside of the circuit on Friday morning.
The results tend to take several hours to be processed and verified and Hulkenberg was able to get into the paddock 10 minutes before the start of opening practice at Silverstone, seen in shorts and Racing Point team gear before joining the team in the garage.
“I was on my way to the Nurburgring for another racing project when the call from Otmar [Szafnauer] came,” explained Hülkenberg.
“That was less than 24 hours ago, so it feels a bit surreal for me right now, but I like a good challenge and this is certainly one.
“It’s obviously a difficult situation for Racing Point and Checo. He’s a buddy of mine, an old team-mate and I wish him a speedy recovery. I’ll step in and try do the best I can for the team.”
Team principal Szafnauer added, “Having to find a replacement for Sergio at short notice is no easy task, but in Nico we’ve got a fantastic supersub who the team knows very well.
“He’s certainly being thrown in at the deep end, but he’s a fast learner and I’m sure he will get up to speed quickly.”
This is the first time Hülkenberg will be in a Formula 1 car since the end of the 2019 season Abu Dhabi and the first time in a Racing Point car since 2016 when the team was called Force India.