However, just hours before Qualifying ensued, he received a call from Racing Point’s Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer, to drive for the team; there’s no way the Hulk could have said no to that.
Fortunately for the team, Nico Hulkenberg was a hop and skip away in Cologne. Thanks to timely communication and rapid COVID tests, the German driver was strapped in, all set for qualifying.
It was a case of smash-and-grab with all the protocols needing to be completed in time. The fact that Hulkenberg was totally unaware only added to the suspense and drama.
In an interview with Sky F1, he was quoted as saying, “I was sat with a friend having a coffee at 11 am when Otmar rang me and said: ‘Hulkenberg hurry, we need you here’.
“I stepped in the car, came here, and the rest is history. You saw what happened now. A 2.0 return in a heartbeat!” exclaimed Hulkenberg. The German had to step in after Lance Stroll was ‘not 100%’; with health being the bigger priority, it was better for Nico to take the wheel.
It must also be noted that drivers were unable to participate in Friday’s free practice sessions due to a series of decisions taken by the FIA, based on the foul weather at the Nurburgring.
Regardless, the fact that Nico was able to participate in qualifying was an achievement in itself. His familiarity with the Racing Point car from both races in Silverstone came as an added bonus.
Although Hulkenberg started off sufficiently, his first lap was not up to the mark compared to the other drivers, and unsurprisingly so, owing to all the race rust.
But just when it seemed like he could get a Q2 worthy final lap, he suffered two lockups, leaving him stranded in P20 for the Main Race tomorrow.