Nico Hulkenberg opens up on ‘special’ 24 hours after Racing Point British Grand Prix call

Nico Hulkenberg admits the past 24 hours have been a “very special” whirlwind after being called up to drive for Racing Point at Sunday’s British Grand Prix. Hulkenberg comes in for Sergio Perez, who has to sit out the Silverstone meet after testing positive for coronavirus.

The German was in Majorca, Spain on Thursday afternoon when he got the call from Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer.

Hulkenberg was seventh-fastest in Free Practice 2 on Friday afternoon and he’s full of praise for the hard work behind the scenes which ensured he could get out on track.

“The last 24 hours have been a bit special,” Hulkenberg told Sky Sports F1. “4.30pm yesterday afternoon I got the call, took a plane here, seat fitting until 2am this morning, 8am this morning into a simulator for an hour, a bit of prep work so it was a short night.

“But all worthwhile. A great effort from the team. I want to thank the team with the nightshift guys that did an amazing job to fit me in the car, even quite comfortably, and then the FIA for turning it around so fast on the super licence. So it’s been very special.”

Hulkenberg had not been behind the wheel of an F1 car since ending his time at Renault at last November’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

He says he soon got a handle on how to make the most of the RP20 – but he admits he’ll be feeling the effects of his return as the weekend goes on.

“Simulator is simulator,” Hulkenberg said. “I got to grips pretty quickly with things. It’s just a little bit to get used to the steering wheel and some of the functions. We didn’t have heaps of time because I had to be tested as well.

“But the real deal obviously today, we’ve got the programme in, got many laps in which I feel. I’ve really been thrown into the cold water here. I think my body will feel it tomorrow and the day after, it’s obviously a huge challenge. But I’m not shy of that one.

“The g-forces are tough to train for because it’s so unique and so special. Even though I’m in decent shape, this kind of g-force and especially around here – one of the fastest, high-speed tracks in 35 degrees, one of the hottest days in the UK so far [this year] – I’ve got the best of everything.”

Hulkenberg spent five years on Racing Point’s books during their former guise as Force India and plenty of personnel have stuck around since his 2016 departure.

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