Aston Martin reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg has revealed that he was “mentally done” with Formula 1 after his departure in 2019, but is always ready to snap up opportunities to race.
Hulkenberg left Renault at the end of the 2019 season after entering 179 races with a combination of Williams, Force India and the Enstone team.
He claimed a stunning pole position in Brazil in 2010 with the Grove squad, but he is the unfortunate holder of the record for the most race starts without featuring on the podium.
When he was forced out by the arrival of Esteban Ocon in 2020, the German thought he was done with F1, but the turn of COVID-19 pandemic has now given five opportunities to get back behind the wheel.
He partook in both of the Silverstone weekends in 2020 due to the absence of Sergio Perez for Racing Point, before stepping in for Lance Stroll in the Eifel Grand Prix later that year.
Sebastian Vettel was then forced to miss both of the opening two rounds of this season, paving the way for another Hulkenberg comeback.
The German was unable to score points in a woefully underperforming Aston Martin car, but did an admirable job given that he had less than 24 hours’ notice before taking part in free practice in Bahrain.
He always relishes the chance to come back, but is not holding his breath.
“Of course I miss racing. That’s natural but I’m keen, not desperate,” he said.
“If it’s not to be…I was more or less mentally done with it, and obviously these things now, because of corona, did happen – 2020 and now, and who knows what might happen for the future.
“I see it being quite difficult and tricky to get a drive but if there’s an opportunity, call me.”
Kevin Magnussen was recalled to the Haas team following the sackig of Nikita Mazepin amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the 29-year-old revealed after the race in Saudi Arabia that his he had been “pulling” all weekend due to his neck, which “broke” during qualifying.
Somewhat to his surprise, Hulkenberg did not encounter any such issues in Jeddah, and laments the Safety Car caused by Nicholas Latifi that ultimately cost him a substantial amount of time.
“Maybe I’m fitter than expected or because it’s not so hot but I’ve had tougher races, in the heat especially,” he explained.
“Better than expected, so that was good, and I’m very happy and proud of my race. It was clean, faultless. I did everything I could with the car I had.
“Obviously the early Safety Car really compromised my race so we lost out there, which is unfortunate. That’s racing, I guess.
“Although I’ve no idea where I would have finished without it.”
Hulkenberg ended the race in Saudi Arabia in P12 as Aston Martin continue to await their first points of the season.
Vettel, meanwhile, is set to return in Melbourne next weekend after testing negative for COVID-19.