Hulkenberg to stand in for Vettel at 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel is unfit to race for the second weekend running, and Nico Hulkenberg will make his fifth substitute appearance since 2020.

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel will once again be replaced by Nico Hulkenberg for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after being declared unfit to race.

Vettel tested positive for COVID-19 in the build-up to the Bahrain Grand Prix after McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo contracted the virus the week before, missing the entirety of the second test in Sakhir.

“Better this week than next” was the Australian’s comment on social media after testing positive, but unfortunately for Vettel, his COVID infection has now ruled him out of, not only the first, but now the second race of the 2022 season.

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It is not yet known whether the four-time champion is still positive, or whether he is simply not feeling well enough to race, but the discussion was sparked last week that drivers ought to be permitted to race even if they do return a positive result so long as they feel fine.

Having departed Formula 1 after his three-year stint at Renault in 2019, Hulkenberg signed for the Silverstone team- then known as Racing Point – and deputised for both Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll when they themselves fell ill, starting two of the three races he entered and scoring 10 points.

His return to action after a 27-race absence was an impressive one last weekend considering that he got into the in the early hours of Friday morning, and he would go on to outqualify team-mate Stroll, before ending the race 17th, five places behind the Canadian.

Nonetheless, the team were enamoured by his dexterity having hopped into a completely unfamiliar car under the new technical regulations, and will place him in the car alongside Stroll again this weekend in Jeddah.

“Saudi Arabian GP Update: “Nico Hulkenberg will practice, qualify and race alongside Lance Stroll,” Aston Martin tweeted.

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“Despite lack of mileage in the AMR22, Nico coped well in Bahrain and we are sure he will do likewise in Jeddah.”

They went on to reveal that they “expect Sebastian Vettel to be fit for the Australian GP.”