Nico Hulkenberg will make his return to Formula One at the British Grand Prix for former team Racing Point in place of Sergio Perez.
Perez was forced to pull out of the race after testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. F1 has a strict track and trace procedure in place and the positive test will not impact the running of this weekend’s race.
Hulkenberg was spotted outside the circuit on Friday morning and entered the paddock just before the opening practice session after receiving a negative COVID-19 test result.
“I was on my way to the Nürburgring for another racing project when the call from Otmar [Szafnauer, Racing Point team principal] 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 [Perez]. He’s a buddy of mine, an old team-mate and I wish him a speedy recovery. I’ll step in and try do the best I can for the team!”
Team principal Szafnauer added: “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. 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.”
Hulkenberg and Perez were teammates at Racing Point under the team’s former guise, Force India, between 2014 and 2016. Hulkenberg spent the next three seasons at Renault but found himself without a race seat for 2020 after the French manufacturer replaced him with Esteban Ocon.
During his stint in F1, Hulkenberg gained the unenviable record of the most race starts (177) without a single podium finish. He returns to a Racing Point car which has established itself as the third best in the F1 pecking order behind Mercedes and Red Bull.