Otmar Szafnauer admits there are doubts to whether Sergio Pérez will be absent from both Silverstone rounds due to his positive coronavirus test, with Nico Hülkenberg set to replace him for as long as needed.
Pérez tested positive on Wednesday when the quarantine measures were set at seven days but the regulations in the United Kingdom have been raised to ten days, whilst there are also question marks to when the Mexican will provide the negative test needed to be cleared to race.
Szafnauer, the Team Principal and CEO at the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team, says Hülkenberg will continue for next weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone if Pérez is not cleared to return as Lance Stroll’s team-mate.
“If it’s certain that [Perez] is out for two, then Nico will drive in both races,” Szafnauer is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “But the reason for it there is a bit of uncertainty, and we’re still not sure if it is seven or 10 days.
“He tested positive on Wednesday. I believe, but I am not a 100 percent sure, that on Wednesday the restriction set by England was seven days of quarantine, not 10.
“I guess I am still unsure. If it’s 10 days, then Nico will drive both [races]. If it’s seven days, that’s only one of the hurdles. The other hurdle is he’s got to have negative test as well. So if the virus is still in the system and he tests positive, then Nico again will be driving in the second Silverstone race.”
With Stoffel Vandoorne in Germany preparing for the finale of the FIA Formula E Championship, the decision to who would replace Pérez was between Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez, but the German was chosen as it was felt he would be a better points scoring option.
“We did it in parallel with Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez at the same time,” Szafnauer added. “We also have Stoffel Vandoorne, but he couldn’t be here this weekend as he’s got a Formula E commitment. So it was Esteban or Nico.
“After we discussed, our engineering team thought Nico would be more appropriate because he knows us really well. He knows all the engineers, he knows our systems, our processes.
“He has driven our simulator, it’d be easy for him to get in the simulator again, and also he has relevant experience from having driven in Formula 1 last year.
“We just needed somebody that could score points for us. So we thought Nico would be the best guy for us.”