Formula 1: Nico Hulkenberg’s return confirmed by Racing Point

Nico Hulkenberg is set to replace Sergio Perez at Racing Point for this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit, the fourth race of the 2020 Formula 1 season.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, forcing him to be sidelined for this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit and possibly for next weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at the same track as well. He hadn’t previously missed a Formula 1 race in over six years.

It was speculated that Nico Hulkenberg, who spent time driving for the team when they were known as Force India, would replace the 30-year-old Mexican in this Sunday’s 52-lap race around the 18-turn, 3.661-mile (5.892-kilometer) road course in Silverstone, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom.

Now that has been confirmed.

Hulkenberg, who lost his ride with Renault to Esteban Ocon after the 2019 season and is without a full-time ride since 2011 when he served as a test driver for Force India, is set to compete alongside teammate Lance Stroll this weekend in his first race since last year’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.

“I was on my way to the Nürburgring for another racing project when the call from Otmar [Szafnauer] came,” said Hulkenberg. “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 team-mate and I wish him a speedy recovery. I’ll step in and try do the best I can for the team!”

Racing Point team principal Otmar Szanfnauer also discussed bringing on Hulkenberg as Perez’s replacement.

“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 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.”

The 32-year-old German’s Formula 1 career dates back to the 2010 season when he competed for Williams. After serving as Force India’s test driver in 2011, he competed for the team in 2012. He moved to Sauber in 2013 before returning to Force India in 2014 and staying through 2016. Most recently, he drove for Renault from 2017 through 2019.

In 177 starts, Hulkenberg’s best finishes are his fourth place finishes in the 2012 and 2016 Belgian Grands Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and the 2013 Korean Grand Prix at Korea International Circuit. He holds the unwanted record for most races started without finishing on the podium.

Stroll has already recorded a fourth place finish for Racing Point this season, having done so in the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring.

Perez’s status for next weekend’s race has not been confirmed, nor has it been confirmed whether Hulkenberg would be his replacement should he be forced to sit out.

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Tune in to ESPN at 9:10 a.m. ET on Sunday, August 2 for the live broadcast of the British Grand Prix from Silverstone Circuit.