- Aston Martin has appointed Nico Hulkenberg as their reserve and development driver for the season.
- Hulkenberg raced three times as substitute for Aston Martin, contributing 15 championship points to the team then known as Racing Point.
- The team finished 5th in last year’s Constructors’championship and are currently tied for 6th in the current odds boards.
After not having a full-time contract in 2020, Niko Hulkenberg will have a permanent role in the 2021 Formula One World Championships. The role may not be as a regular driver on an F1 team but it’s still a crucial one considering that the pandemic is still a threat not just to Formula One racing but to all of sports.
On Thursday, the Aston Martin Cognizant F1 team announced that they have signed Hulkenberg to be their reserve and development driver for the rest of the 2021 season. According to team principal Otmar Szafneur, adding Hulkenberg is like getting an insurance for his team. Per Szafneur:
NEW: Aston Martin name super-sub Hulkenberg as official reserve and development driver – https://t.co/BAUSn3BXP8
— RaceFans (@racefansdotnet) April 8, 2021
This isn’t the first time that Hulkenberg will be racing with the team. Under the team name Force India, Hulkenberg raced full time for them in 2012, finishing 11th with 63 championship points. He earned a total of 226 points from 2014 to 2016 after returning to Force India and finished 9th-10th-9th in those three campaigns. Hulkenberg spent 2017 to 2019 racing for Renault but did not get a contract for 2020.
Hulkenberg got the call thrice from Racing Point ( now Aston Martin ) last season and stood in for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll when both drivers tested positive for COVID-19 and were ineligible to race. He failed to start at the British Grand Prix while subbing for Perez but was impressive when he qualified at P3 and finished 7th in the same race track for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. He also subbed for Stroll at the Eifel Grand Prix where he would gain another Top 10 finish at 8th place.
The 33-yer old is an accomplished driver at several levels. He won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 and was a champion at the GP2 Series, Formula 3 Euro Series, and A1 Grand Prix. When it comes to Formula One racing, the Hulkster has a 176-race experience in a career that began with Williams in 2010.
Every Point Counts
2020 Final constructors standings pic.twitter.com/8qVRrC1C8x
— F1 in the 2010’s🏆🏁🚦 (@F1inthe2010s1) December 15, 2020
The reserve driver role has become an important one in Formula 1 because of the ongoing pandemic. Hulkenberg’s two Top 10 finishes while stepping in for Stroll and Perez last season was proof of that. Similarly, Williams’ driver George Russell stepped in for Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix when the latter tested positive for COVID-19.
Aston Martin is currently just 6th in the current Constructors Oddsboard at online sportsbook SportsBetting.ag as a +25000 longshots to win this year’s team title. But for a team that’s battling to move from the middle of the pack to the upper echelon of Constructors, every point in the championship is important.
As Racing Point last season, Aston Martin finished 4th in the Constructors’ standings last season with 195 points. They were 14 points ahead of 5th place Renault and given that Hulkenberg earned 15 points for his two Top 10 finishes as a super-sub, the team would have finished one spot lower had it not been for Hulkenberg. Hopefully, nothing happens to Stroll or Vettel, but in case something does, Racing Point knows they have the best guy to take over.