Nico Hulkenberg is still ready to replace Sebastian Vettel for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah this weekend.
Nico Hulkenberg proved his “super-sub” reputation in Bahrain, filling in for Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin after Vettel’s positive Covid-19 test.
The super-sub German may race for Aston Martin again after what was meant to be a one-off performance. Since the team has not offered an update on Vettel’s condition since his diagnosis, Hulkenberg might be back in the driver’s seat for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend.
Hulkenberg was given a free ticket back into F1 when he was informed on Thursday morning that he would be driving in Free Practice the following day ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
“We don’t know yet,” Hulkenberg replied when asked if he’ll be back in the car for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (if Vettel will race).
“I think it’s a matter of waiting a couple of days, seeing how Seb is. If he’s fit to race or not, I’ll be in the area anyway, to be ready and on standby.”
If by any chance Hulkenberg competes again this weekend, he will at least have the Bahrain experience to draw on. The German had not driven the AMR22 throughout winter testing and found himself suddenly needing to comprehend the new vehicle ahead of qualifying in Bahrain. The German outperformed his teammate Lance Stroll, who finished 19th in qualifying.
Hulkenberg struggled to generate speed from his AMR22, making the race more difficult for him. At the checkered flag, he was the last of the classified finishers. Hulkenberg spoke after the race about his first’very challenging’ race weekend in an F1 car in almost a year.
“It was interesting. It was difficult, very difficult to be honest… first time (racing) obviously in a long, long time,” Hulkenberg said.
“There’s so many things happening in the race, it’s so dynamic, the car balance is changing, the fuel load is changing, so it’s difficult to keep up with all these changes and stay on top of things.”
Hulkenberg also said that once he out-braked himself, the race grew increasingly tough.
“So, it was difficult,” he added. “I didn’t really have one big mistake I think I out-braked myself once trying to overtake someone and from then onwards it seemed to get a bit more difficult for me.”
“But yes, it was always going to be tough to expect much more than that.”
Aston Martin did to collect any points in the Bahrain Grand Prix season opener, as Lance Stroll finishing 12th, five places ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, who finished 17th.