Hulkenberg still on standby for Vettel

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg is waiting in the wings for a second straight Formula 1 race weekend as uncertainty looms over the availability of Aston Martin star Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel was sidelined after testing positive to COVID-19 on the eve of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

It was the start of a woeful weekend for Aston Martin, which qualified worst of all 10 teams and never threatened to score points come race day.

Hulkenberg did, however, impress in how quickly he was able to match team-mate Lance Stroll despite no prior seat time in the AMR22.

The German veteran has declared himself ready to tackle Round 2 in Saudi Arabia this weekend should his compatriot not be ready to return.

“We don’t know yet,” Hulkenberg said of whether Vettel will race at Jeddah.

“I think it’s a matter of waiting a couple of days, seeing how Seb is.

“If he’s fit to race or not, I’ll be in the area anyway, to be ready and on standby.”

Hulkenberg’s 17th place finish in Bahrain came in his first race since substituting for Stroll at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix.

“It was interesting. It was difficult, very difficult to be honest – first time [racing] obviously in a long, long time,” said the 34-year-old.

“There’s so many things happening in the race, it’s so dynamic, the car balance is changing, the fuel load is changing, so it’s difficult to keep up with all these changes and stay on top of things.

“So, it was difficult. I didn’t really have one big mistake – I think I outbraked myself once trying to overtake someone and from then onwards it seemed to get a bit more difficult for me.

“But yes, it was always going to be tough to expect much more than that.”

Aston Martin is one of four teams yet to open its account this season, joined by Williams, McLaren and Red Bull.

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