After losing his last full-time F1 drive with Renault at the end of the 2019 season, Hulkenberg took part in three events for the Aston team that was then known as Racing Point during the last campaign on the occasions when its regular drivers were unable to race after contracting COVID-19.
Hulkenberg entered the two races at Silverstone in place of Sergio Perez after he tested positive for COVID on the eve of the British GP weekend, although Hulkenberg did not start the race after a bolt in his car’s clutch sheared ahead of the start. He would go on to take seventh from a sensational third on the grid, in the subsequent 70th Anniversary GP.
He then stood in for Lance Stroll in the Eifel GP after the Canadian felt unwell during practice – he was also only diagnosed with COVID after leaving the event at the Nurburgring – and Hulkenberg finished eighth after only taking part in qualifying and the race.
“First of all, it’s great to get this deal signed up with plenty of notice – last year, I didn’t have quite as much time to prepare before jumping in the car,” said Hulkenberg, who raced for the squad in its Force India guise in 2012 and between 2014-2016.
“I’m really pleased to once again work with this team – with whom I have driven many times during my career.
“Obviously, I’m hoping that Sebastian [Vettel, who has replaced Perez for 2021 at the rebranded Aston squad] and Lance enjoy uninterrupted seasons this year, but the team knows it can rely on me to step in and do an excellent job, and I’m fully prepared to take on that challenge.
“It will also be interesting to help develop the team through the season, and I’m really looking forward to pulling great lap-times out of my arm sleeve.”
Nico Hulkenberg, Racing Point RP20, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF1000
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Aston Martin team principal and CEO Otmar Szafnauer added: “We’re delighted to be able to welcome Nico back to the team in an official capacity, as reserve and development driver for [the] Aston Martin Formula 1 team.
“In these difficult times, the requirement for a capable and experienced reserve driver is especially important.
“Nico proved last year that he could jump in the car and perform superbly at a moment’s notice; now, with additional scope for preparation and integration, we know that we can rely on Nico to do an excellent job.”