Hulkenberg confirmed as Perez's replacement at Racing Point for the British GP
Nico Hulkenberg is set to make a shock return to Formula 1 as Sergio Perez’s replacement at Racing Point for this weekend’s British Grand Prix, with the German spotted outside Silverstone on Friday morning.
Perez tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, leaving Racing Point in need of a driver, and it seems they have turned to a man who raced for them in their Force India guise in 2012, and from 2014 to 2016.
Hulkenberg left Formula 1 at the end of last season after Renault opted not to renew his contract and he did not find a suitable drive elsewhere on the grid. But at the time, he told F1.com it didn't feel like it was the end.
He was linked to a return to Renault for 2021, but missed out after the French manufacturer opted to facilitate double world champion Fernando Alonso’s sensational return.
But sources confirmed to Formula1.com on Thursday that Hulkenberg was the team’s leading contender to step in for Perez, who is now in self-isolation.
“I was on my way to the Nürburgring for another racing project when the call from Otmar came," said Hulkenberg. "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!”
Otmar Szafnauer, Racing Point Team Principal, 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.”
Nico Hulkenberg's F1 stats
As first practice for the British Grand Prix neared, Hulkenberg was still waiting for his test result, but the German made it into the track in time for FP1.
The arrangement is for this weekend’s British Grand Prix, but with Perez set to be unavailable for the second race at Silverstone, too, it is understood Hulkenberg will contest both Grands Prix for the team.
With 177 races under his belt and no podiums, Hulkenberg famously holds one of F1's least wanted records. But with Racing Point's RP20 expected to go well at Silverstone, he returns to action with no better chance of ending that drought.