Nico Hulkenberg has absolutely had an action packed Saturday. Even he would not have expected to be appearing anywhere near the Formula 1 paddock, after his brief appearance this season.
But just hours before Qualifying ensued, he received a call from Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer to drive for the team. And Hulkenberg could not resist as well.
Fortunately for the team, Nico Hulkenberg was apparently nearby in Cologne. Thanks to timely communication and rapid COVID tests, the German driver was strapped in and was set to go for qualifying.
Nico Hulkenberg says last-minute call-up was ‘crazier’ than previous appearance
It was a case of smash-and-grab with all the protocol needing to be necessarily completed in time. The fact that Hulkenberg was totally unaware, just added to the suspense and drama.
In an interview, he was quoted as saying, “I was sat with a friend having a coffee at 11am when Otmar rang me and said: ‘Hulkenberg hurry, we need you here’.”
“I stepped in the car, came here and the rest is history. You saw what happened now. A 2.0 return in a heartbeat!” commented Hulkenberg.
The German driver had to step in after Lance Stroll was ‘not 100%’. And with health being the bigger priority, it was better for Nico to take the wheel for the session.
The former Renault driver did not enjoy a great qualifying session
It must also be noted that drivers were unable to participate in Friday’s free practice sessions. This was owing to a decision taken by the FIA, based on the bad weather at the Nurburgring.
Regardless, the fact that Nico was able to participate in qualifying was an achievement in itself. His familiarity with the Racing Point car from both races in Silverstone, came as an added bonus.
Although Hulkenberg started off decently, his first lap was not up to the mark compared to the other drivers. Obviously, he has been lacking race practice all this while.
But just when it seemed like he could get a Q2 worthy final lap, he suffered two lockups at various turns. They got the better of him, and ultimately he finished in P20.