Hulkenberg recalls 'crazy and wild' 24 hours to make F1 return at Silverstone

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Nico Hulkenberg described the whirlwind 24 hours that proceeded his return to Formula 1 for this weekend's British Grand Prix.

The German got the sudden opportunity after Sergio Perez tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, and Racing Point were unable to call on Mercedes for either of their reserve drivers.

Timing was still very tight though, with Hulkenberg only approved to compete 15 minutes before practice got underway at Silverstone on Friday, this after his own coronavirus test came back as negative.

“The last 24 hours have been a bit special, crazy and wild,” he admitted to the media.

“4:30pm yesterday afternoon I got the call and took the plane here, the seat fitting lasted until 2am and got into the simulator at 8am this morning for an hour to do some track work, a bit of prep work, so it was a short night but all worthwhile.

“A great effort by the team, I want to thank all the night shift guys for doing an amazing job to get me into the car quite comfortably. Also want to thank the FIA for turning it around so fast on the super licence. It’s been very special.

Also Read:

“I think there I got to grip pretty quickly with things. It’s just a little bit getting used to the steering wheel and some of the functions. We didn’t have heaps of time because I had to be tested as well.”

Of course, Hulkenberg is not a new face at Racing Point having raced for the team for four seasons between 2012-2016 and he also only left F1 at the end of last year after being ousted by Renault.

Even so, the 32-year-old admits physically, he was already feeling the effects of being back in the car.

“We got the programme and many laps in, which I feel,” he said. “I’ve really been thrown into the cold water here. I think my body will feel that tomorrow and the day after. It’s obviously a huge challenge but I’m not shy of that one.

“The G-Forces are tough to train for because it’s so unique and so special,” he added. “Even though I am in decent shape, this kind of G-Force around here, one of the fastest high-speed tracks, in 35 degrees…

“I also chose the hottest day in the UK so far, so I got the best of everything.”

GP2004 101303MS2 3569 medium

His return though is exciting fans that maybe, just maybe, Hulkenberg could claim that elusive first F1 podium in a car that, at times, has been the second fastest on the grid, and led Practice 2 via teammate Lance Stroll.

“You can see there’s huge potential, the car is massively fast," Nico admitted.

“I didn’t exploit the soft tyre as well, so I think there’s a bit more in the bag and I need to use that tyre better. That’s what we are going to work on through the night to try and get the best possible from the weekend.

“I tried to get up to speed with the car today, step-by-step, to understand it. It is quite different from last year and it just takes time to inhale everything and understand how to drive it. It’s a process of learning.”

With Perez in quarantine for 10 days, Hulkenberg is set to compete in both races at Silverstone over the next two weeks.