After missing the consecutive Silverstone races, Sergio Perez has finally tested negative for Covid-19 and will resume driving for Racing Point at this weekend’s Spanish GP, meaning that ‘super-sub’ Nico Hulkenberg is back on the sidelines. 

It’s been an eventful return for Hulkenberg, who was unfortunate to lose his seat last season (a statement many fans and the paddock can agree on), and has shined in his stand-in performances for Racing Point. 

Hulkenberg’s starring qualifying performance at Silverstone last weekend was a timely-reminder of his abilities and one that will have certainly boosted his prospects of fulfilling his target of returning to the F1 grid on a full-time basis for 2021. 

His race performance at last Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was also particularly strong, and the German would have beaten teammate Lance Stroll had he not been forced into a late pit-stop due to vibrations experienced in the car. 

All important factors to note when one takes into consideration he was sitting at home only two and a half weeks prior with no F1 drive at all or any preparation to jump back into a seat before being drafted in as a replacement for Sergio Perez! 

He was incredibly unlucky to experience a technical issue in the first British GP, which robbed Hulkenberg of the chance to make his first F1 start since the 2019 season finale in Abu Dhabi

But Hulkenburg bounced back from the disappointment in resounding style, and has certainly caught the eye of team principals and F1 personnel up and down the grid, with rumours swirling the German is already in discussions with teams for a seat next year. 

Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur conceded his admiration for Hulkenberg as one of the most talented drivers on the grid, a ‘real leader’. 

With seats close to confirmation at most of the top-tier teams, Hulkenberg’s best chance may lie with the likes of Alfa Romeo or Haas. 

Or, could his strong performances for Racing Point have thrust him into contention for a seat with the team for next year when they rebrand as Aston Martin?

Either way, Hulkenberg will continue to remain on the sidelines as a reserve driver for Racing Point, and may well get another chance to race again if any unforeseen circumstances occur prior to the end of the season. 

If the German doesn’t get a chance to race again, he can at least be proud of the impact his short tenure has provided. 

Ross Brawn even went as far to admit that had he not signed Lewis Hamilton back in 2013, Nico Hulkenberg was his next choice, stating that “I almost signed him years ago , when I was in charge at Mercedes.

“If Lewis hadn’t joined Mercedes when he did, Nico was our next choice.

“I’ve always respected Nico enormously as a driver. He’s a very strong driver who should be in Formula 1.”

Brawn was not the only one to sing the German’s praises, with fellow driver Max Verstappen joining in to say after qualifying last weekend “I really hope that this will help Nico find a seat for next year, because he definitely deserves to be in F1.

“There are definitely a few drivers who are not as good as him at the moment, and they are in F1. It’s hopefully a great boost for him I mean.” 

Ex-Renault teammate Daniel Ricciardo joined in saying “hats off to him. We all know that the car is working. I don’t want to say it’s the car.

“He’s obviously done a really good job, and to be sitting on the couch for so long, it’s not easy.

“Even though he’s a veteran, it’s not easy to do that. I don’t care what anyone says, hats off to him, he’s done a really good job.” 

If his lucky stars align, it sounds as if Hulkenberg might just get the chance to return to the grid in a full-time position for next year, certainly aided by his strong 2020 Racing Point performances. 

Would you like to see the Hulk back in Formula 1? Which team could you see him driving for? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and subscribe to Crash F1. 

 

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