Hulkenberg on standby in Portugal in case Stroll can’t race

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg is available to return for Racing Point as a substitute at this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix.

The team has already called on Hulkenberg’s services three times already this year as both its drivers, Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez, have been forced to miss races after contracting Covid-19.

Hulkenberg made a short-notice dash from Cologne to the Nurburgring to drive for them two weeks ago when Stroll chose not to drive in the Eifel Grand Prix. His late call-up meant he was unable to get into the car until the start of qualifying.

Racing Point have taken the step of ensuring he is close by in case he is needed again. “Yes Nico is here,” confirmed team principal Otmar Szafnauer. “And I think other teams have also opted to bring reserve drivers for the first time. I think it just it just makes sense to have reserve drivers.”

Stroll revealed yesterday he had tested positive for Covid-19 after missing the Nurburgring race due to illness. He has since tested negative, but under revised FIA procedures will have to test negative again on-site before he can enter the paddock.

“He had a negative test coming into this weekend,” said Szafnauer. “The probability of now getting a positive is low.

“Is it zero? I don’t know, I don’t know that much about it, but it’s low. Nico is here as a precaution and I am confident Lance will be in the car this weekend.”

Stroll’s father Lawrence, who owns Racing Point and Aston Martin, also tested positive for Covid-19 on the Sunday of the Eifel Grand Prix weekend, the same day as his son. He tested negative on the previous Thursday.

Szafnauer said the pair had apparently both contracted Covid-19 “despite not being together”, as the team owner did not attend the race in Germany or the preceding round in Russia.

“Lawrence this year has missed more than just a couple of races, he’s missed a few,” Szafnauer explained. “That’s because he’s got some big responsibilities at Aston Martin and he is doing different things. This year he hasn’t been to as many. He didn’t come to Russia and he didn’t come to Germany.

“Lawrence went to Aston Martin that weekend and was there on Thursday where he tested – because he too tests as often as we do – and that Thursday test, he got a result on Friday that was negative. And then when Lance landed and tested, Lawrence tested at the same time again. And then both tests came back positive.”

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2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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5 comments on “Hulkenberg on standby in Portugal in case Stroll can’t race”

  1. Hulk of the year award? :-)

    That way he will get that podium eventually.

    What happened to the reserve driver role? The “development” driver. Apparently, no team has a real stand by. Kivyat at Ferrari was the last one?

    1. @Only Facts! Kvyat’s role at Ferrari in 2018 was more simulator-based than an actual reserve.

    2. What happened to the reserve driver role?

      I believe that Haas’ reserve drivers are Pietro Fittipaldi and Louis Delétraz.
      But those guys don’t have an F1 superlicense, so cannot race. (there are some exceptions for testing if memory doesn’t fail me).

  2. NiCovid Hulkenberg. Where Covid has proven to be a disaster for most, it has turned out very lucky for the Hulk. He has a real chance of landing a permanent seat next season.

    1. I really want him to get into RedBull, with Albon and Gasly at TR.

      I hope he doesn’t end up at Haas, he’s done his time at the back.

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