Max Verstappen believes Nico Hulkenberg is still worthy of a full-time Formula 1 seat after the German performed solidly on his return to the sport in qualifying for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Hulkenberg was drafted in as a last-minute replacement for Sergio Perez at Racing Point after the Mexican was tested positive for Coronavirus on Thursday.

Hulkenberg narrowly missed out on a spot in Q3 and is set to start the race in 13th.

 

 


In the post-qualifying press conference, the top three qualifiers were asked what they thought of Hulkenberg’s return and the challenges - fitness-wise - he has faced this weekend. 

“I could see after the first practice his neck was hanging to one side,” Verstappen said. “He has quite a long neck so that is also… that’s not nice to have in F1. It’s tough because I spoke to him about it back in the day when he was still in F1 full-time. He didn’t enjoy that. It’s tough, you can train as much as you want; the first time you go in an F1 car with these speeds, especially around here, you will be sore.

“You can train every day with your neck but the first time it’s always going to be sore so I’m 100 per cent sure of course when he woke up today he felt it. But anyway, it doesn’t matter to him anyway, he’s happy to be here and he should be here anyway because I think he still deserves his spot on the grid.”

British GP pole-sitter Hamilton said Silverstone is one of the harder circuits for a driver to come back to due to the physical demands the high-speed corners put on a drivers’ body.

“Definitely not the best one to come to, your first practice, your first race for the neck,” Hamilton said. “Copse is flat out so it’s a pretty intense combination of corners so I wouldn’t be surprised if this morning he woke up with quite a few bruises and sore but he’s generally always been really in good shape. I saw him walking in, he looked like he never left.

“But think it’s even more so, it’s probably the prep is a big part, your understanding of the car, that’s probably the biggest part. When you don’t know the car, you don’t know the tools you have or the simulations that the team uses. I can’t even tell you how far behind he is with that. But he is a great driver but if anyone can do it. It will be him, for sure.”

Bottas added that Hulkenberg is likely to be feeling “sore” waking up this morning.

“Yeah, I’m sure he will be sore and as you said, he’s probably not been prepared, physically, to drive a Formula 1 like we all did for the first race but I think he’s done really good, I think it’s a big challenge for him, with such short notice, he was setting some good lap times but obviously big experience from the past. I hope he has a good race tomorrow.”

 

 

 

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