(Motorsport-Total.com) – “That was a real cold start without any preparation.” Nico Hülkenberg made a contribution to the history books during qualifying for the Grand Prix of the Eifel 2020 (in the live ticker!). Unlike Paul di Resta, who had a similar weekend in Budapest in 2017, Hülkenberg wasn’t even in the Formula 1 paddock when he called.
The 33-year-old was actually preparing for a job as an RTL expert and was sipping a coffee in the RTL lounge in Cologne. “I would have been up here tonight to film anyway,” he says. That worked out well, because at almost exactly eleven o’clock his whole weekend schedule was overturned.
“Suddenly I got a call from Otmar [Szafnauer]. He tells me to get on my socks, better now than in five minutes. And the rest is history. It was even wilder than last time, I have to admit. That was Comeback 2.0. “Racing Point marketed it as the” Hulkenback “on social media.
As a replacement for Lance Stroll, who was not infected with COVID-19, he immediately went to the Nürburgring, an hour away, cleared all the formalities and took part in qualifying for the Eifel Grand Prix. All without being able to breathe for a second. “
Shock after a few meters: different steering!
“I had to think twice because of course it really isn’t an easy story without any preparation,” the Racing Point driver admits. “Of course we don’t do it every day. But at the end of the day I’m a racing driver and a professional. That’s my job and when such an opportunity arises, you have to grab it.”
And so it went into the qualification, after two months without Formula 1 driving experience. And then suddenly everything felt very different. “The steering is completely different [als in Silverstone]because the team has developed there in the meantime. The steering ratio is different. I had to adjust myself and get used to it0 At the beginning it was quite a fuss. “A short stint to break in, then immediately to attack.
In the end it was the last place in qualifying. You couldn’t ask for more. Half a second behind the Q2 entry in a car that he has not yet driven at this stage of development, with three small mistakes on the lap and a training deficit in the entire field is a more than respectable achievement.
Formula 1 expert Ralf Schumacher sees it similarly: “If that had gone really smoothly and he was there [aus Q1] had come out, then the other 19 would be [Fahrer] overpaid for what they do. He hasn’t been in the car for two months. “
Unexpected fulfillment of the Nürburgring dream
What can you do now in the 24 hours leading up to the race? In any case, you can’t do magic. “You can’t break the iron bar with one hand,” says Hulkenberg, “We only have the options that are available to us. The usual race preparation will be carried out as usual.” Simulator training is not possible in the short time because it is in England.
“I now have a few laps in my pocket and a few impressions. Tomorrow it will of course be a little different with a full tank and in racing trim.” One of the impressions is that the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit with the Racing Point RP20 turned out to be extremely wavy.
Was it worth it? In any case, thinks Nico Hülkenberg, who won both GP2 races (forerunner of Formula 2) at the Nürburgring in 2009. “A pretty crazy story, but it was worth the stress. I enjoyed the four rounds too. It was fun and really cool.”
“The track is still great. There were some memories from earlier times. I’m so happy that it is on the calendar. I was so sad that it was on the calendar in the year in which I was not So I’m happy that I got the chance today. “