Of all the people that have endured a strange 2020 in the F1 paddock, it is undoubtedly Nico Hulkenberg who has had the strangest of them all. The chances to drive an F1 car came to him, at the time he was least expecting to do so.
Hulkenberg has been a stand-in driver for both regulars, Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez, at different races and has done well. Particularly considering it was a last-minute decision from Racing Point to call Nico in for the Eifel Grand Prix.
Having done everything he can from his end this year, it is now up to the F1 teams to take a call. However, the German driver believes that links have quietened in recent times, and it is best to play the waiting game until the final decision is made.
Motorsport has quoted Hulkenberg as saying, “It is very, very quiet at the moment.
“The stones have already fallen for many teams,” he added.
“The cards are laid. I had my two [race] chances and used them as good as I could.”
As it stands, there are four teams yet to confirm their lineup for 2021. Haas and Red Bull are keeping their options open, while Lewis Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda are expected to drive for Mercedes and AlphaTauri respectively next year.
“I’m not actively involved now anyway, but of course I’m in contact with the people that matter. But not every week now, not every day,” concluded Hulkenberg.
Nico’s first appearance for Racing Point came at the team’s home race at Silverstone itself. Replacing Perez, who contracted COVID-19 at the time, the “Hulk” drove well to finish seventh in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Later on in Nurburgring, Hulkenberg was once again summoned to replace an ill Lance Stroll in the Eifel Grand Prix. He appeared in qualifying without any practice, and managed only P20.
Showcasing his ability to the fullest, the 33-year-old raced finely to bring home a P8 finish. One only wonders whether that performance was good enough for an F1 seat in 2021. As it stands, the wait goes on before we eventually find out.