Hulkenberg remains available to replace Vettel in Saudi Arabia
Nico Hulkenberg once again lived up to his “super sub” status in Bahrain, filling in for Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel following Vettel’s positive Covid-19 test.
After what was supposed to be a one off appearance, the super-sub German may yet race for Aston Martin again. The team has not provided an update on Vettel’s condition since his diagnosis, meaning Hulkenberg could be on driving duties again in this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Very much thrown in at the deep end, Hulkenberg received the call on Thursday morning that he would be driving in Free Practice the next day. Commenting on if he will be in the car again for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hulkenberg said: “We don’t know yet (if Vettel will race).
I think it’s a matter of waiting a couple of days, seeing how Seb is. If he’s fit to race or not, I’ll be in the area anyway, to be ready and on standby,” said Hulkenberg.
If Hulkenberg races again this weekend, he will at least have the experience of Bahrain behind him as guide. Prior to Bahrain, the German not driven the AMR22 during winter testing and suddenly found himself needing to understand the new car ahead of qualifying. The German performed well, out qualifying teammate Lance Stroll, who managed 19th.
— Nico Hülkenberg (@HulkHulkenberg) March 20, 2022
The race proved to be more difficult for Hulkenberg, as he struggled to extract pace from his AMR22. He was last of the classified finishers at the chequered flag. Talking after the race, Hulkenberg reflected on his ‘very difficult’ race weekend in an F1 car in over a year:
“It was interesting. It was difficult, very difficult to be honest – first time [racing] obviously in a long, long time.
There’s so many things happening in the race, it’s so dynamic, the car balance is changing, the fuel load is changing, so it’s difficult to keep up with all these changes and stay on top of things”.
Hulkenberg also revealed that the race became more difficult after he out-braked himself: “So, it was difficult. I didn’t really have one big mistake – I think I out-braked myself once trying to overtake someone and from then onwards it seemed to get a bit more difficult for me. But yes, it was always going to be tough to expect much more than that,” he said.
Aston Martin scored no points in Bahrain, with teammate Lance Stroll finishing 12th.