Nico Hulkenberg ‘pleased’ on F1 return after shock Eifel GP call-up

Nico Hulkenberg has given his verdict on Eifel GP qualifying after a hasty call-up from Racing Point resulted in an F1 return he described as “even wilder and crazier” than his last 2020 stand-in appearances.

Hulkenberg, who was handily in Germany at the time, received a phone call at 11am local time (10am UK) from Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer on Saturday, with usual driver Lance Stroll suffering from illness.

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Four hours later he had to qualify in a car with no practice at the Nurburgring, and he finished Q1 in 20th and last place – although only four-tenths of a second off the a spot in the next portion of the shootout.

Even for a driver who flew over to Silverstone to replace Sergio Perez earlier in the season, it was a whirlwind day.

“It was even wilder and crazier than last time!” Hulkenberg told Sky F1.

“I was in Cologne, about an hour from here, and I was due to come here this afternoon anyway to do some TV stuff for RTL [German broadcaster] tomorrow.

“I was sat with a friend having a coffee at 11am when I see that Otmar rings me and says, ‘Hulkenberg hurry, we need you here’. The 2.0 return was in a moment of a heartbeat!”

On his last weekend in the car, at the 70th Anniversary GP, Hulkenberg qualified an astonishing third before finishing the race seventh.

But Saturday at the Nurburgring was always going to be more difficult after missing final practice, which Stroll also sat out. Hulkenberg completed four laps in qualifying, with a best time of 1:28.021.

“It felt quite different to Silverstone,” he explained. “Obviously a completely different circuit, the car has moved on too and there are a couple of technical bits which are very different and give the driver a very different sensation.

“I had to kind of adjust around that a bit and just find my feet again. Obviously in four laps that’s not so easy. All in all, even though we’re last, I’m quite pleased with the laps we produced.”

He will therefore start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid.

“Tomorrow is going to be very difficult and a hell of a challenge,” he said. “But we’ll do what we can. Obviously I have the experience, the four laps in the pocket will sink in and tomorrow we’ll just go race and see what we get.”

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