“He’s happy to be here and he should be here anyway because I think he still deserves his spot on the grid,” said Verstappen.
However Hulkenberg has been out of action since the end of last season, and admitted he found it physically tough to get back into a Formula 1 car at one of the most demanding circuits on the calendar.
“I could see after the first practice his neck was hanging to one side,” said Verstappen. “He has quite a long neck, so that’s not nice to have in F1. It’s tough, I spoke to him about it back in the day when he was still in F1 full time. He didn’t enjoy that.
“You can train as much as you want, the first time you go in an F1 car with these speeds, especially around here, you will be sore. You can train every day with your neck but the first time it’s always going to be sore so I’m 100% sure when he woke up today he felt it.”
Lewis Hamilton said Hulkenberg “looked like he never left” when he returned to F1 yesterday, but said Silverstone is “definitely not the best one to come to, your first practice, your first race, for the neck.
“Copse is flat-out so it’s a pretty intense combination of corners. So I wouldn’t be surprised if this morning he woke up with quite a few bruises and sore. But he’s generally always been really in good shape.”
“Probably the prep is a big part, your understanding of the car, that’s probably the biggest part,” Hamilton added. “When you don’t know the car, you don’t know the tools you have or the simulations that the team uses. I can’t even tell you how far behind he is with that.
“But he is a great driver but if anyone can do it. It will be him, for sure.”
2020 F1 season
- Bottas vs Rosberg: Hamilton’s Mercedes team mates compared after 78 races each
- F1 revenues fell by $877 million in Covid-struck 2020 season
- Hamilton and Mercedes finally announce new deal for 2021 season
- F1 audience figures “strong” in 2020 despite dip in television viewers
- 2020 F1 driver rankings #1: Lewis Hamilton