Racing Point impressed by Hulkenberg ‘incredibly seamless’ return
Racing Point tech boss Andy Green praised Nico Hulkenberg for his quick adaption back to F1, insisting the German driver “slipped into it incredibly seamlessly”.
Hulkenebrg, who last raced in F1 with Renault last year in Abu Dhabi, was called upon on short notice by Racing Point to replace Sergio Perez who was ruled out of the British Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19.
With just 24 hours to prepare for his task, Hulkenberg, who raced for five years with the Racing Point under its Force India guise, was thrown in at the deep end but acquitted himself well, running regularly among the top ten in free practice and qualifying P13 on Saturday.
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“We’re not aware of the procedures that went on at Renault, but he’s got a good memory,” commented Green.
“And I think a lot of the procedures that he was used to when he was driving for us for quite a few seasons haven’t really changed. They might have evolved a bit, but the general principles behind them are all very similar.
“So he did slip into it incredibly seamlessly. It was like he’d never left. Which is the reason why we wanted him in the car in the first place.
“It’s such short notice we wanted someone who we knew we could get the maximum out of in a very short space of time. So in that respect, it wasn’t that arduous for him. I think the switch was relatively simple.”
Hulkenberg has remained fit since his departure from F1 at the end of last year, but driving an F1 car in anger after a lengthy hiatus still produced the inevitable physical strain.
“His biggest disadvantage is not being in a car for nine months.” said Green. “I think not being in the seat for that length of time, he’s a bit rusty.
“I think from an installation point of view it went quite well. There are still some modifications we could make to make it slightly more comfortable, but he hasn’t really complained about the comfort in the car at all since he got in it.
“Lance [Stroll] is quite a tall driver, so he’s pretty close, he’s within two centimetres of Lance. So it wasn’t too much of a squeeze.
“The biggest thing is just time in the car. I think if he has a good race and gets 50-odd laps under his belt, he’ll come out of that probably a bit tired for sure and a bit sore on Monday, but with a lot more knowledge.”
Hulkenberg: Hard to extract ‘100 per cent’ given the circumstances
Green said the team was forced to change its running program on Friday and take into account Hulkenberg’s inevitable period of adaptation.
“We did make a conscious effort to reduce his workload,” explained the Racing point tech boss.
“We haven’t put a big emphasis on him doing tests and big set-up changes, compares and things like that, we just concentrated on the basics.
“We changed our plans completely after Thursday of how we were going to approach the weekend.
“It was all about just doing the simple stuff, not doing experiments and just making sure we don’t make too many mistakes. Just get the basics right. And I think we’ve just about come out of it and done that.
“We made a conscious effort to focus on the Sunday, less on a Saturday. But I think from Nico’s perspective, he fitted in really well.”
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