Last weekend, Nico Hülkenberg did not make it to the Silverstone Formula 1 race due to a technical failure.
But the performance of the Racing Point replacement in the practice sessions and qualifying met with a positive response – from experts as well as many drivers.
Asked by Racing Point at the last minute to replace a Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID-19, the German Nico Hülkenberg had every chance of finally landing a first podium in F1 this weekend at the wheel of a competitive ‘pink Mercedes’.
Before ‘the Hulk’ was chosen, Esteban Gutierrez was cited along with fellow Mercedes reserve Stoffel Vandoorne as potential candidates to substitute for Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. Vandoorne was quickly ruled out due to his Formula E commitments.
It then transpired that Gutierrez was not in possession of a superlicence, therefore not eligable to race.
“I think Esteban would have been a really strong candidate for the seat but unfortunately he didn’t qualify,” says Wolff.
“There is a new rule this year that says if you haven’t raced in an Formula 1 car, in an official event, for the last three years, you need to have done a test for at least 300km.
“That is a new rule that came into effect this year which we didn’t particularly look at because we didn’t think that a Formula 1 driver that previously had a strong record wouldn’t qualify for the drive.
“That was the case with Esteban so that is why Racing Point opted for Nico Hülkenberg.”
Paul di Resta will be McLaren reserve driver. @svandoorne is unavailable (Formula e Berlin) and @EstebanGtz currently not eligible for a superlicence.
Di Resta has done a seat fit this morning in Woking
— Albert Fabrega (@AlbertFabrega) August 5, 2020
Wolff then explains (yesterday) to Germany’s RTL TV that Hulkenberg, who is set to drive again this weekend for Racing Point, could well be welcomed into the Mercedes driver lineup on an official basis.
“What he delivered on Friday was really solid. And also on Saturday within the framework of what was to be expected. Positive…
“I think he delivered very well,” said Wolff.
“If you don’t sit in the car for nine months, that’s a very solid performance. I’m sorry he didn’t drive the race.” Wolff praises, hinting on the fact that Nico had a far longer break away from F1 compared to the other drivers on the grid, despite COVID shut down.
RTL then quizzed Wolff on the possibility of Hulkenberg joining Mercedes.
“German driver is always an interesting idea” confirms Wolff
“He is a good candidate in any case. A German driver can always be an interesting idea. Even as a reserve driver.
“I think we simply have to look at the situation globally,
“What do we want to achieve next year with our driver line-up? Could already be a candidate.” confirms Wolff.