Nico Hulkenberg was confirmed as Sergio Perez’s replacement for the British Grand Prix a matter of minutes before the start of first practice.
As reported by RACER on Thursday evening, the German has been called on by his former team after Perez tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of this weekend’s race. While a seat fitting could take place at the factory overnight, Hulkenberg had to wait outside the paddock gates for the final results of his own test before being allowed to enter and officially be confirmed.
Hulkenberg got the green light just under 10 minutes before FP1 started, running down the paddock in Racing Point team kit to jump in the car and head out on track.
“I was on my way to the Nurburgring for another racing project when the call from Otmar (Szafnauer) came,” Hulkenberg said. “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 teammate and I wish him a speedy recovery. I’ll step in and try do the best I can for the team!”
Hulkenberg has so far only been confirmed for this weekend’s race at Silverstone but is likely to remain with the team for the following round at the same venue as Perez must isolate for 10 days, and Szafnauer says the familiarity Hulkenberg has with his team will prove invaluable.
“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,” Szafnauer said. “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.”
At just two centimeters taller than teammate Lance Stroll, Hulkenberg was able to borrow a set of the Canadian’s overalls for the race weekend and is running a plain black helmet with sponsor stickers on Friday.