Aston Martin is uncertain if Sebastian Vettel will recover in time for the Saudi Arabian GP scheduled for this weekend.
Sebastian Vettel tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the Bahrain GP and therefore he had to miss it. Aston Martin replaced the four-time world champion with its reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo had also tested positive a few days before the Bahrain GP and missed the pre-season testing. However, he recovered in time and returned on the track for the race weekend.
Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack said, after the race in Bahrain, that while Vettel’s health seems to be improving it is still unclear if he would return to the track for the Saudi Arabian GP.
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Krack explained that the 34-year-old participated in the debrief and he sounded less rough than before but the team is still unsure. “We will see how he goes for the next days. We hope he will be back soon,” Krack added.
Vettel has to follow both the Covid-19 regulations of Saudi Arabia and the internal ones at Aston Martin before he returns to the track. In any case, it will be easy for him, if he has a negative test report.
Nico Hulkenberg does not know if he has to replace Sebastian Vettel again
Aston Martin’s reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg was called in to replace Vettel at very short notice. Hulkenberg marked his first F1 race since the Eifel Grand Prix in 2020 when he replaced Lance Stroll for testing Covid-19 positive.
Asked if he has any idea about racing this weekend as well, Hulkenberg said, “No, not yet. I don’t know.”
He said that he’ll find that out by Thursday or Friday until then he will be back in his role as a standby reserve driver.
Coming back to F1 after so long in the first outing of the AMR22, Hulkenberg could not deliver an up to mark performance. Hulkenberg finished the first race of the season down at 17th place while his teammate Lance Stroll finished the race at 12th.
The German driver said, “It was difficult, very difficult, in combat mode. The beginning was okay. But I was just hanging on, it was tough for me.”
“Once you’re out of that mode of just running with new, fresh tyres and know the limitations become more, you have to manage and understand the car a lot more. So that was difficult.”
“[It was a] big learning experience today. So we went OK, I think then I tried to overtake someone, out-braked myself a bit into Turn 1. And from there onwards, it was kind of a downward spiral.”
“I got lapped quite soon, and you just fall back and back more and more. But yeah, it was what it was.”