Nico Hulkenberg will replace Sergio Perez at Racing Point for the British Grand Prix after a positive Covid-19 test ruled the team’s regular out of the weekend.
After Perez entered self-isolation on Thursday having returned an inconclusive test, Racing Point immediately went on the search for a viable replacement.
Ex-Renault driver Hulkenberg arrived in the UK hours after the team became aware of Perez’s positive test, undergoing Covid-19 tests of his own before arriving at Silverstone ten minutes before the start of FP1.
“I was on my way to the Nurburgring 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.”
Hulkenberg has been out of action since last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Renault but arrives at an outfit which is arguably the third-best team on the grid and offers the German a competitive chance for a maiden F1 podium.
Racing Point do not have any official reserve drivers and instead rely on Mercedes’ crop of free agents. However, former McLaren racer Stoffel Vandoorne, who would have been the most likely candidate to fill the vacant seat, is preparing for his Formula E finale in Berlin starting next week.
Hulkenberg has driven for Racing Point under the Force India moniker back in 2011-2012 and again in 2014-2016 where he partnered Perez for three seasons.
“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,” said Racing Point Team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
“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.”
Perez is eligible to return to Racing Point in time for next weekend’s second leg of F1’s Silverstone doubleheader due to the UK’s 10-day isolation period and provided he does not return any more positive tests.