Hulk for Aston Martin role? ‘Watch this space’

Date published: February 5 2021

Nico Hulkenberg

Aston Martin boss Otmar Szafnauer has hinted Nico Hulkenberg could be used as their reserve driver in the upcoming season.

It has been all change since the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, with Szafnauer’s team undergoing the transition from Racing Point to the famous name of Aston Martin.

There was, of course, also a change of driver with Sebastian Vettel coming in to partner Lance Stroll, taking the place of Sergio Perez who went on to find a new home at Red Bull.

The position of reserve driver is still unconfirmed though, and Szafnauer has suggested a move for Hulkenberg could be in the pipeline.

He told RTL: “Could very well be. There is nothing to announce yet but watch this space. We are close to Nico and we are in discussions with him. That would be great for us all.”

Hulkenberg had formerly raced under Szafnauer when the team was known as Force India, although he moved on in 2017 to join up with Renault.

2020 saw the two reunite at Racing Point when Hulkenberg was drafted in to replace Perez, who was forced to miss two races after testing positive for COVID-19, and he later filled in for Stroll when he was feeling unwell.

Hulk’s first outing at the British Grand Prix did not go to plan as he was unable to start the race due to engine failure, but he impressed at the same venue a week later as he qualified P3 behind the two Mercedes and finished seventh – ahead of team-mate Stroll.

He then stole the show at the Eifel Grand Prix, finishing P8 after starting the race at the back of the grid.

It was the first season in nine in which he did not have a full-time drive and there were plenty of suggestions mid-season that Red Bull were planning a move for the German to replace Alex Albon, with Hulkenberg reportedly Max Verstappen’s favoured choice of team-mate.

That seat eventually went to Perez, leaving only Lewis Hamilton’s place at Mercedes currently unoccupied.

Hulkenberg has previously gone on record to say he does not see himself in the role of reserve driver, so whether he would accept Szafnauer’s offer is another matter.

He explained on the AvD Motorsport Magazin show last August: “I sat in a race cockpit for 10 years and stood at the start lights, so accepting a step backwards without much chance of getting back in makes little sense to me. That’s not the path I want to take.”

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