Before the Bahrain Grand Prix, the four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel tested positive for Covid, forcing him to miss the first two rounds of the new season.
The Aston Martin driver will have to “dig deep” to get to grips with his Aston Martin AMR22 over the Australian Grand Prix weekend, according to Nico Hulkenberg.
After testing positive for COVID-19 just before the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, the four-time F1 World Champion will return to the track for the third round of the new season after missing races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
As a result, Hulkenberg took his seat and finished 17th and 12th in his two races. Lance Stroll did not do much better, and the team has yet to collect a point this season.
Aston Martin, lead by new Team Principal Mike Krack, has had a rough start to 2022, which was made further more difficult by the timing of their temporary driver loss.
Vettel is now fit and ready to race, according to his team, well ahead of the Australian Grand Prix weekend.
With the team learning more about their car with each session, his Aston Martin will have evolved significantly since he last drove it in Bahrain, providing him with plenty of homework to complete.
When asked how difficult it will be for Vettel to catch up after missing so many races, stand-in Hulkenberg replied it will be difficult.
“Obviously, he’s lacking those two races, so he will start a little bit on the back foot,” Hulkenberg told the media during the Saudi weekend.
“I think he is very skilled and is very talented. He is capable of catching up but, for sure, he has a bit more work to do, and he needs to dig a little bit deeper to try and make up for it.”
Vettel’s positive Covid test occurred at an inopportune time for Aston Martin, as the team was abruptly deprived of his knowledge and comments.
“We had to work all test sessions, all winter testing, around these problems,” Mike Krack said. “I think we were not the only ones.”
“[Vettel’s positive test] came at the point where we really did not need it because you have no references at all and then you change the driver at the last moment, so that leaves you with only one reference, which is always quite dangerous.”
“It’s difficult for Nico, obviously, to jump in like that. He had no reference either,” he added. “He didn’t test, so you’re a bit in the dark.”