Nico Hulkenberg reflects on ruined F1 return as issue prevents British Grand Prix start

Nico Hulkenberg admitted his disappointment at having his return to Formula One wrecked by a technical problem which meant his Racing Point could not get going for the start of the British Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon – and says he does not know yet whether or not he will race at the same circuit in a week’s time.

Hulkenberg was a late replacement for Sergio Perez after the Mexican tested positive for COVID-19 before the Silverstone race this week, despite not suffering any symptoms.

The former Force India and Renault racer had been absent from the sport since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year, with Esteban Ocon having taken his seat.

And his performance despite eight months out of F1 was impressive as he qualified in 13th.

But when it came to the start of the race on Sunday, Racing Point’s mechanics were fix an issue which would not allow the RP20 to get to the grid.

It is currently unclear whether or not Hulkenberg will get a second shot next weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, which will also take place at Silverstone.

It remains uncertain whether or not Perez will still be in quarantine by then or whether he will be cleared to return.

And the German told Sky Sports of his ruined return: “It’s been crazy, hasn’t it? Somehow it fits into all these crazy days that I’ve experienced.

“It’s disappointing for me and the team.

“Obviously they tried everything but it was some sort of power unit issue and we didn’t manage to start the car and get out there which is obviously disappointing and a problem.

“They’re looking into why, we don’t know yet.

“If there is a next weekend, today would have been very important to get more experience and to understand and learn more about the car, especially in a race condition.

“It’s just a loss on that side but I guess it is what it is and we have to see how things go for next weekend.”

Racing Point boss Otmar Szafneur meanwhile confirmed on Friday that if Perez is unavailable for next weekend, Hulkenberg will remain in his place.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen meanwhile believes that Hulkenberg is worthy of a full-time seat.

“I could see after the first practice his neck was hanging to one side,” said the Dutchman.

“He has quite a long neck, so that’s not nice to have in F1.

“It’s tough, I spoke to him about it back in the day when he was still in F1 full time. He didn’t enjoy that.

“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 when he woke up today he felt it.”

While Lewis Hamilton said of Hulkenberg: “It’s definitely not the best [race] to come to, your first practice, your first race, for the neck.

“I think Copse is flat out so it’s pretty intense combination of corners so I wouldn’t be surprised if this morning he work up with quite a few bruises and sore but he’s genuinely always been in good shape.

“I saw him walking in… it looked like he never left.

“But even more so I think the prep is a big part, the 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 simulation the team uses… I can’t even tell you how far behind he is with that.

“But he is a great driver and if anyone can do it it’ll be him, for sure.”

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