Nico Hulkenberg is set to be confirmed as an Aston Martin test and reserve driver, according to a report.
The German would be continuing his links with the Silverstone-based team for whom he raced in 2011-12 and again from 2014-16 when they were known as Force India.
In addition, Hulkenberg made a couple of ‘guest appearances’ for the team under the Racing Point banner last season when their regular drivers were suffering from illness.
The 33-year-old deputised for Sergio Perez in the two races at Silverstone in August after the Mexican contracted COVID-19, and then again for Lance Stroll in the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring when the Canadian was forced to pull out with an illness that resulted in him also subsequently testing positive for the coronavirus.
Hulkenberg holds the Formula 1 record for the highest number of grands prix driven without a podium finish having made 179 starts, his best position being P4 on three occasions, two of which were in Belgium.
And now F1 Insider report ‘The Hulk’ “is on his way to Aston Martin as a test and reserve driver”. They add that “the plan is for Hulkenberg not to be on site at every race but to have a standby line – just in case”.
— Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) February 12, 2021
Szafnauer’s “watch this space” comment came during an interview with RTL.
When asked whether Hulkenberg would be the Aston Martin reserve driver, as he was on those occasions for Racing Point in 2020, Szafnauer added: “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.”
An official link-up with the team would mean Hulkenberg working alongside his compatriot Sebastian Vettel, who has joined after six years with Ferrari.
The four-time former World Champion will have team owner’s son Stroll jnr on the other side of the garage.
Hulkenberg’s arrival would further strengthen the German links with Aston Martin because aside from Vettel, they will again be using Mercedes engines in 2021.
Also, Freiburg-born Tobias Moers, 54, a former CEO of Mercedes-AMG, took on the equivalent role in August at Aston Martin Lagonda, in which Daimler holds a 20% stake.