(Motorsport-Total.com) – Does Formula 1 have its next high-level corona case? These fears first arose after Lance Stroll’s sick leave. But Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer gives the all-clear: “He was in the toilet the whole time.” And Stroll didn’t make it down long enough to be able to drive at the Nürburgring.
According to Szafnauer, the Canadian has not felt well since the race in Russia two weeks ago. “I think he had a cold or something,” he says. Of course, Stroll has been tested several times for the corona virus – always negative. “He came back three or four times with negative tests. He doesn’t have the classic COVID-19 symptoms either. He just doesn’t feel well.”
In the night from Friday to Saturday, Stroll had quite a stomach problem. “So he was on the toilet the whole time and said: ‘I got rid of so much fluids and I can’t get away from the toilet long enough to get into the racing car,'” says Szafnauer.
The team does not know for sure whether Stroll just ate the wrong thing or whether he was caught by a gastrointestinal virus. “He simply said: ‘I don’t feel well. There is a double header in front of us. I prefer to rest and prepare for it,'” continues the team boss.
Hülkenberg: Time too short for training
At Racing Point, they had hoped that their regular driver would be used until the end, but in the end it was decided that Stroll could go home as soon as he was able to do so. The decision was made just a few minutes before free practice on Saturday morning, which meant that there was no longer enough time for substitute Nico Hülkenberg to jump in on time.
According to Szafnauer, Stroll had the will to drive at the Nürburgring 30 minutes before training. But he knew: if he drives qualifying, then he has to contest the race. “And in his condition, he wasn’t looking forward to the race.”
Racing Point called Hülkenberg, who had already jumped in for Sergio Perez, who was ill, and who wanted to go to the ring anyway thanks to his work for RTL. “I knew he couldn’t be far away. So I called him and asked: ‘How far away are you?'”, Says Szafnauer.
Hulkenberg was there in time for qualifying, but faced a difficult task. Without having driven a meter since Silverstone, he had to contest the qualification. The 20th and last place was almost the logical consequence, but his gap to the top was only 1.7 seconds.
Why the choice fell against Vandoorne
According to the team boss, the goal was simply to create the 107 percent rule in order to be able to take part in the race. Hülkenberg easily mastered that, although the car has changed significantly since the last exit and also felt different. “He was surprised by it, but he has to get used to it.”
But Szafnauer is convinced: If Hülkenberg gets off to a good start on Sunday, points are even possible for him.
And while Hülkenberg gets his third chance at the home game this year, someone else looks into the tube: Stoffel Vandoorne has to watch, although as a Mercedes test driver he is also the reservist of Racing Point. If Hülkenberg had not been available, he would have been allowed to drive, says the team boss.
“He was in the paddock, had a negative COVID-19 test and was ready. But we had Nico’s seat here and we know exactly where the pedals have to go. We don’t have to adjust the pedals and other things like we do with Stoffel So it was easier, “he explains, why the choice ultimately fell on Hulkenberg.