Nico Hulkenberg has joined Aston Martin Racing’s F1 team as its reserve and development driver, securing a return to the team he raced for twice in 2020.
The 33-year-old has started 179 grands prix, of which 81 have come for Aston Martin under its previous guises of Force India and Racing Point. Last year’s appearances were as a last-minute call-up for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll respectively after both tested positive for COVID-19, and Aston has now moved to secure Hulkenberg in an official capacity this season.
“First of all, it’s great to get this deal signed up with plenty of notice — last year, I didn’t have quite as much time to prepare before jumping in the car!” Hulkenberg said. “I’m really pleased to once again work with this team, with whom I have driven many times during my career.
“Obviously, I’m hoping that Sebastian (Vettel) and Lance enjoy uninterrupted seasons this year, but the team knows it can rely on me to step in and do an excellent job, and I’m fully prepared to take on that challenge. It will also be interesting to help develop the team through the season, and I’m really looking forward to pulling great lap times out of my arm sleeve.”
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer says it was particularly important to ensure this year’s reserve driver was able to respond at late notice, with Hulkenberg proving his credentials with a pair of point-scoring finishes in his call-ups last year.
“We’re delighted to be able to welcome Nico back to the team in an official capacity, as reserve and development driver,” Szafnauer said. “In these difficult times, the requirement for a capable and experienced reserve driver is especially important.
“Nico proved last year that he could jump in the car and perform superbly at a moment’s notice; now, with additional scope for preparation and integration, we know that we can rely on Nico to do an excellent job.”
Hulkenberg had been linked to a potential race seat at Red Bull late last year, and has also been touted as an option for Mercedes should either of its reserve drivers — Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries — be unavailable due to Formula E commitments.