Nico Hulkenberg has recounted the sequence of events that saw him step in to Lance Stroll’s Racing Point for qualifying at the Eifel Grand Prix at the last minute.
An unwell Stroll missed Free Practice 3 before the team confirmed he would be replaced by Hulkenberg for the remainder of the weekend.
Having stepped into the team for two events earlier in the year when Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID-19, the German revealed Saturday’s events were even more rushed.
“It was even wilder and crazier than last time,” Hulkenberg told Sky Sports.
“I was in Cologne, which is kind of an hour from here (Nurburgring). I was due to come here this afternoon anyway and I was going to do some TV stuff with RTL tomorrow.
“(I was) Sat with a friend having a coffee at 11:00 when I see that Otmar rings me and says ‘Hulkenberg hurry, we need you here’.
“I stepped in the car, came here, and the rest is history. We saw what happened now, the 2.0 return in the moment of a heartbeat.”
The German’s first taste of the car came in qualifying, banking a steady lap to start with before lowering that benchmark as Qualifying 1 progressed.
His final 1:28.021s lap was ultimately the slowest of the session, 0.5s away from progressing through to Qualifying 2, and 0.9s slower than Perez managed in the sister car.
Despite the result, Hulkenberg was pleased given the chaotic build up.
“It felt quite different again to Silverstone,” he said of the car in comparison to when he last drove it.
“Obviously completely different circuit, the car has moved on too.
“There’s a couple of technical bits that are very different and give the driver very different sensation, so I had to kind of adjust around that a bit.
“Obviously in four laps that’s not too easy.
“All in all, although we’re last, I’m quite pleased with the laps we produced just now.”
His attention now turns to Sunday’s race, where the team will be hoping he’ll be able to work his way into a points paying position.
It is currently locked in a tense scrap for third in the constructors championship with McLaren and Renault, the three operations split by just seven points.
“Tomorrow is going to be very difficult and a hell of a challenge,” Hulkenberg admitted.
“But, we’ll do what we can. Obviously I have the experience, the four laps in the pocket now.
“Those will sink in and tomorrow we’ll just go race and see what we get.
“You have to expect the unexpected. It’s just what happened again today.”
The Eifel Grand Prix is set to get underway at 23:10 AEDT on Sunday.
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F1 2020 NEXT RACE
|10h00 - 11h30||Free practice 1|
|14h00 - 14:18||1st Qualifying|
|14h25 - 14h40||2nd Qualifying|
|14h48 - 15h00||3rd Qualifying|
|13:10 - 15:10||Race|