On a Friday dominated by Racing Point for the wrong reasons, Nico Hulkenberg cheered up the team with a promising performance in free practice.
The morning at Silverstone, before the cars took to the track for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix weekend, could hardly have gone worse for the Pink Panthers.
Firstly, Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID-19 for the second week running, which meant he had to miss this race as he did the British Grand Prix.
Then news emerged that Renault’s protest against Racing Point amid the ‘copying’ furore surrounding the RP20’s brake ducts had been upheld by the FIA, leading to a punishment of a 15-point deduction in the Constructors’ World Championship and a 400,000 euros fine.
Perez’s absence meant a second consecutive opportunity in the Racing Point for Hulkenberg, who drove in all of the practice sessions and qualifying last week but did not get out of the garage for the race when the power unit of his car could not be fired up.
However, the German had gained valuable experience which he put to good use in Friday practice this weekend, finishing P6 in FP2, one place behind his team-mate Lance Stroll.
✅ Up to speed
— BWT Racing Point F1 Team (@RacingPointF1) August 7, 2020
“I’m feeling a lot more confident in the car,” said Hulkenberg. “It helped that I was able to be in the simulator last week to prepare for the weekend.
“I’m much more familiar with how the team works and more up to speed behind the wheel.
“It felt like a routine Friday and I was able to extract the pace of the car much more quickly today, which is a big positive.
“I’m pleased with today because we were able to try a few things with the set-up of the car and it helped me adapt to the car. We were then able to work through today’s programme effectively, which gives us a good starting point for the weekend.
“I felt there was pace to be found on the medium tyre because I didn’t have a totally clean lap and I left some time on the table at the final corner, but all in all it was a positive Friday.”
Stroll, who was only 0.08sec off P3, said: “We’ve done plenty of laps around Silverstone now, which helps close all the gaps up, so it’s about maximising everything this weekend.”