Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Yas Marina, 2019

Hulkenberg expected to substitute for Perez at Silverstone

2020 British Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg could make a surprise return to Formula 1 this weekend as a substitute for Sergio Perez, RaceFans understands from German sources.

Yesterday the FIA confirmed Perez has tested positive for Covid-19 and has been isolated, ruling him out of this weekend’s race at Silverstone.

Racing Point has an arrangement with power unit supplier Mercedes to call on its reserve drivers Stoffel Vandoorne or Esteban Gutierrez if needed. However Vandoorne is not present at the track this weekend as he is preparing for Formula E’s upcoming run of six races over the next two weeks.

While Gutierrez could be made available, Hulkenberg’s more recent race experience and familiarity with the team is thought to make him a preferred candidate for Racing Point.

Hulkenberg joined the team in 2011, when it was called Force India, as a reserve driver. He was promoted to their race team in 2012, and drove for them again between 2014 and 2016. After that he left to join Renault, but lost his place at the team at the end of last season.

As well as having competed in F1 more recently than Gutierrez, who last raced in 2016, Hulkenberg would bring his considerable experience of 177 race starts to the team’s line-up, alongside Lance Stroll.

Racing Point are expected to confirm their plans imminently, with practice due to begin at the circuit within the next three hours.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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45 comments on “Hulkenberg expected to substitute for Perez at Silverstone”

  1. The dream is alive.

  2. So they have to find Nico and bring him in and they have have 3 hours to do it!

    1. He’s already there. He was supposed to be on RTL giving commentary but last night GlobeAir (his previous sponsor) picked him up from Monaco. Some say Hulkenberg already done car fitting, they’re just waiting for his test result to confirm.

      1. If he was supposed to be at the track for RTL, he should have done a test already?

        1. Yes, that’s some confuse me too. Some journalist said they had spot him there already which doesn’t make sense if his covid-test hasn’t come out. It looks like they’re waiting for non-covid medical test for driver.

        2. RTL reports from their studio in Cologne at the moment. Only very few people (e.g. Kai Ebel and camera crew) are trackside.

      2. Thanks for that update, I didn’t know Hulk was on for the German TV commentary, that makes it even easier to slide him in then – he would clearly have already been part of a bubble / taking care to prepare to be there @ruliemaulana, and if they had him pick up to test a fit in the car (they probably still have his seat from 2 years back) it could be done at short notice @macleod

    2. I hope he’s race fit.

  3. Here comes that sweet, sweet first podium

    1. I’m going to reply @black here

      Hulkenberg comes back and gets on the final lap his first ever podium…only for FIA to take it way after they find Racing Point’s car illegal

      Ocon for podium. He kept replacing Hulkenberg.

    2. Yep – Stroll takes out Bottas in the 1st corner and than Lewis wins, Max 2nd and Hulkenberg 3rd :-)

    3. Stroll will beat Hulk.

      1. Wouldnt it be great if Hulk comes in after 6 months off, and beats Stroll out of the box and gets his first podium..

    4. Just imagin it.
      First time back….bang….podium.

      Here is Hulks one chance to wriggle back in to an F1 seat. Just so long as he doesn’t get snapped up by Haas (no offence…but he deserves better).

  4. Hulk for a podium and RP seat next year? Sarcasm on the seat for next year but we can only dream

  5. Makes sense

  6. But how long will it take to get his results back.

    Is there enough time to him to participate in FP1 or FP2?

    1. @qeki It’s fine as long as he at the very least participates in QLF, so not a problem if he wouldn’t make it in time for FP1.

    2. He may be ready for FP1 if he was supposed to be at the track anyway (someone else mentioned he was supposed to do commentary in which case he would’ve had to be tested same time as everyone else).

  7. Am I right in thinking this could be for this weekend (British GP) and the following weekend (70th Anniversary GP) given the 14 day period? Or is it 10 day…or 7….who knows!

    1. @pimbers4955

      Could be up to a month… almost all covid19 patients are infectious in the first 3 weeks since diagnosis, even if they make a full recovery during that time

    2. It’s a 10-day (was 7) isolation after a positive test in the UK.
      So no 70th race either for Perez.
      And it could be much longer as he needs to test negative first (standard procedure is a double negative test to declare somebody free of the virus).

      1. Thank you! I’ve been waiting for someone to say this (which seems very obvious to me). Doesn’t matter so much if 10 days have passed if someone still tests positive.
        On the other hand, he will probably be tested again before next weekend, and in theory could test negative. But I suppose they would enforce the 10 day rule anyway.

  8. Probably wasn’t a good idea going back to the UK which has one of the worst per capita rates in the world for the virus.

  9. Why this reporters don’t know who will be the substitute? He was tipped yesterday 24 hours ago, today you should already know who will be…

    Slow news.

    1. As far as I’m aware, from being a long time follower of the site, they never reports rumors. Nothing is yet confirmed officially so why would the site confirm it? he’s being “tipped” to substitute Perez… that’s as far as the news go.

      1. Yeah, being on here for many years I have to say to Racefans credit, i’ve heard lots of things earlier, but here you know it’s not speculation. Initially Keith and now others have proven to be great journalists and a very trustworthy site.

        1. I want to like your comment, a la FB.

          Racefans has indeed been very circumspect and never have gone for wild speculation.

          Salute to the site.
          My primary site for F1!

        2. Indeed no (unqualified) rumours here.
          @fer-no65, @bernasaurus

          A lot of annoying commenters like @gogogoalex though complaining about everything.
          If only he would heed his own advice.

          1. Im not giving anybody advice, just saying its strange that 30 min before the start of free practice 1, they still don’t know who will be.

          2. Im not giving anybody advice

            reference to your username, @gogogoalex.
            (always disappointing when you have to spell it out)

            PS Why should Keith know this 30m before FP1 if the team has not announced it yet (and maybe don’t even know themselves; e.g. waiting for test result of the preferred substitute)?

  10. This strange Covid year needs Hulkenberg scoring a surprise podium..

    It’ll be like opening Pandora’s boxes, in reverse!

  11. Who’d want to be a Mercedes driver?

    Gutierrez was theoretically next in line with Vandoorne busy.
    Russell is tied into Williams.
    Ocon had to leave to get a drive in F1.
    Wehrlein got lumped with uncompetitive Manor and Sauber cars in F1 before heading back to DTM just as Mercedes quit the sport.

    But instead they call Hulkenberg in from ‘retirement’…

    1. … everyone would want to be a Mercedes driver.
      Vandoorne is busy, yes. Racing in a different series. Kinda what happens when you sign a contract to drive in a particular series, you can’t skip it to go and do other things. And he presumably wouldn’t want to, given that he’s fighting for a championship.
      Same with Gutierrez.
      Russell is tied in with Williams – yes, it’s what a contract is for. If he was to drive for another team, who would Williams get? Do you really think any team would allow their driver to just run off and drive for any other team they choose? Of course not.
      Wehrlein admittedly didn’t have the best career. But he got several seasons in the sport and didn’t impress any other team enough for them to hire him at the end of his contract, so he’s not exactly blameless.

      Stop blaming Mercedes for something that is nothing to do with them.

      1. So many comments when Alonso was selected over Zhou or the other Renault junior program drivers for next year.
        Whats the difference when Mercedes does it? They have junior drivers and reserve drivers for a reason.

        Oh right… Racing Point and Mercedes aren’t closely associated at all… ;)

  12. That’s it, Nico, Podium, now.

  13. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    31st July 2020, 10:20

    I still think that given Hulkenberg didn’t have a role to be a reserve driver, he will have less experience in this area than Gutierrez. As much as I certainly would have rated Hulkenberg higher than Gutierrez at the end of last year, with Hulkenberg having nothing to with f1 this year as well as no preparation, I think the reason they still haven’t made their mind up will be because they are still considering to use Gutierrez.

    One benefit you could say he has is that his role literally is to be a reserve driver, and he will have had to be prepared for this to happen any race even though it is very unlikely to occur. He also has had experience with mercedes as test driver for the past 3 years. So given the amount of times people say the Racing point is the 2019 Mercedes, Gutierrez will be familiar with it.

    I still am not sure who is most likely, but I’m actually leaning towards Gutierrez. I don’t think they would have left it this late if they were not still deciding between two drivers.

  14. He could end up being a real super sub this year! A very decent driver who has experience as recent as four races ago. Driving for Racing Point over the next few weekends, but I could see him hopping in to a few other seats as well down the track if necessary, given his lack of allegiance to any one team/brand. It could surprisingly turn out to be his best year yet!

  15. If Hulkenberg is not there yet, or waiting for his test result, and Gutierrez is there and ready, they could still run Gutierrez in practice today.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      31st July 2020, 10:53

      Whoever races in practice should do the whole weekend. Both will need to get used to the car for the weekend. You can’t have one and then the other really.

      1. Was just saying if Hulkenberg would have only been ready on Saturday, then why not put Gutierrez in the car for some practice sessions? It’s valuable time and data for setting up the car.

        Plus other drivers get practice sessions on Fridays all the time, and then don’t race. Hasn’t Kubica done it already this year with Alfa Romeo?

  16. Much rather someone a bit more exciting like Webber or Rosberg.

  17. What’s even the point of having reserve drivers if you don’t use them when you need one?

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      31st July 2020, 10:58


      This is exactly what I think.

      Everyone seems to really want Hulkenberg. I think that last year, i easily would have rated him well above Gutierrez, but he’s not been involved with F1 since last year. Gutierrez is Mercedes test and reserve driver, so will be prepared to do his job as reserving either for Mercedes, or as per their agreement, Racing point. Hulkenberg didn’t have anything to do with F1 this year and was not a reserve driver, so I’m really not understanding this decision. If anything, Gutierrez has experience with what many call the 2019 Mercedes as he was the test driver for Mercedes last year. Despite Gutierrez being rather underwhelming, I disagree with the choice which has now been confirmed. Like you say, I just don’t know why they don’t use reserve drivers for their role and they go for someone who is no longer involved.

  18. Have always enjoyed the Hulk’s driving and was disappointed he got dropped last year. Glad he’s going to get another chance to drive. In the darker corners of my mind I would love to see him beat Stroll, very uncharitable I know, but…

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