12:00 – Max Verstappen believes that Nico Hülkenberg deserves a permanent seat in Formula 1. The driver from Emmerik can unexpectedly make his F1 return this weekend due to a positive corona test by Sergio Perez, although Verstappen emphasizes that it is extremely difficult for a driver to start without specific preparation.
Hulkenberg was supposed to finish a test at the Nürburgring, but a call from Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer decided otherwise. The Hulk quickly picked up his racing shoes and another helmet and jumped in the next (private) plane to Birmingham. A negative corona test then did the rest, allowing Hülkenberg to return to the F1 circus after a three-race absence.
On Saturday, the German then got stuck at P13, but according to Verstappen, that is not surprising given the physical load. “I could already see on Friday after the first training that his neck was hanging slightly to one side. He has a rather long neck anyway and that does not really help in F1, which is not nice,” said Verstappen during the online press conference. “Furthermore, it is just difficult. You can train physically what you want, but you feel quite good that first time in an F1 car. Certainly at these speeds and certainly on this track. I am sure he will be quite on Saturday morning felt when he woke up. “
Apart from that, Verstappen thinks that Hülkenberg deserves a permanent place in the highest racing class. When the Hulk worked as an F1 analyst for RTL Germany, the Dutchman already said ‘you should actually be here in the paddock, because there are some drivers around who are slower’. In Great Britain, Verstappen repeats that even more. “Nico is happy to be here and should actually be here. He deserves a place on the grid.”
Mercedes drivers also praise Hülkenberg
In addition to Verstappen, the Mercedes duo is also full of praise for Hülkenberg. According to Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, Hülkenberg performs properly without significant preparation. “This is not the easiest circuit to start with, but Nico is a good driver. If anyone can do it, then he is,” said the reigning world champion. “I am sure he has felt it physically, but he is doing very well so far, especially for a first race as a substitute. Of course it remains a huge challenge for him in such a short term, but fortunately he has a lot of experience the past and making nice lap times. I personally hope he has a good race on Sunday afternoon, “adds Bottas his teammate.
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