The super-sub Nico Hulkenberg is Hulkenback for the 4th time since he retired from Formula 1! For 2021, Hulkenberg is back with a full-time role in F1. Aston Martin has signed the German as their reserve and development driver for the 2021 season. Hulkenberg has already raced for Aston Martin before, but they were under the Racing Point brand when Hulkenberg raced as a substitute for them last year (more detail on that later in this post). Hulkenberg did some commendable driving, which boosted him and gave him a better chance for a race seat in 2021. However, he wasn’t able to get a drive with any of the teams, until Aston Martin decided to sign him as a test and reserve driver.
So if something happens to Lance Stroll or Sebastian Vettel, Hulkenberg can quickly step in and race. Hulkenberg may also be part of Free Practice Sessions, and Aston Martin will help him with driver development and getting him ready for next year. The super-sub will be hoping to earn a full-time drive in Formula 1 in the near future. But for now, he’s going to be spending time with the squad that he’s pretty familiar with.
“First of all, it’s great to get this deal signed up with plenty of notice – last year, I didn’t have quite as much time to prepare before jumping in the car,” said Hulkenberg. “I’m really pleased to once again work with this team – with whom I have driven many times during my career.” Here he is referring to the times he raced for Force India, in 2012, and then from 2014-2016.
“Obviously, I’m hoping that Sebastian and Lance enjoy uninterrupted seasons this year. But the team knows it can rely on me to step in and do an excellent job, and I’m fully prepared to take on that challenge. It will also be interesting to help develop the team through the season. And I’m really looking forward to pulling great lap-times out of my arm sleeve.”
Aston Martin Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer also spoke about this news. He said: “In these difficult times, the requirement for a capable and experienced reserve driver is especially important. Nico proved last year that he could jump in the car and perform superbly at a moment’s notice; now, with additional scope for preparation and integration, we know that we can rely on Nico to do an excellent job.”
On that note, let’s take a look at Hulkenberg’s 2020 adventures with Racing Point before rounding off this post.
How Nico Hulkenberg Truly Proved His Worth Last Year
Hulkenberg spent 10 full seasons in Formula 1 from 2010 – 2019. He retired from the sport after he lost his full-time seat at Renault. In 2020, he didn’t have a full-time seat in Formula 1, but he still managed to race in F1. Just before the 2020 British Grand Prix, Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID-19. Obviously, this meant he wouldn’t be able to race. So on Thursday, just a day before the Grand Prix weekend started, Nico Hulkenberg flew in from Germany to England. It was an exciting and shocking time for Formula 1, and it got everyone’s hopes up.
Nico Hulkenberg is famous for not being able to score a podium in his long F1 career. With the 2020 Racing Point car being so quick, we all thought that he would finally get the podium he deserves. But unfortunately, he couldn’t even start the race due to technical issues with his car. However, the UK restrictions at the time required 10-day quarantine for positive cases. This meant Sergio Perez couldn’t participate in the next race either. This meant the super-sub was back and had another chance to at least make a good impression in the race. After qualifying in a wondrous P3, Hulkenberg finished the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix in P7. He was in P5, but he made an extra pitstop to avoid a puncture.
Hulkenberg’s got another came at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix when Lance Stroll tested positive for COVID-19. However, Hulkenberg only got an hour in the car before qualifying. He got the call to race even later than he did in England. Because of this, Hulkenberg qualified last. The driver literally got less than an hour to get used to the car and the track, so you can’t expect him to instantly put in fast lap times. However, he made use of his experience in Practice and in Qualifying and really proved his worth in the race. He pulled off an excellent and commendable drive to finish in P8. This earned him the super-sub nickname.
It’s true that that drive was an amazing drive from a great driver. However, F1 is a tough sport and a very tight and competitive sport. There were not really any seats left on the F1 grid, meaning Nico was still left without a drive for 2021. But now, although he couldn’t secure a race seat for 2021, he does have a test and reserve driver role, which is a great boost that can get him ready for a full-time seat in the coming years. Nico can use this year to understand and assess which team is looking to be strong in 2022 and approach them for a race seat. However, there’s also the unpredictability of the major regulation change. Still, this is incredibly exciting news, and it’s news that we’re really happy to hear!