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Hulkenberg gets second chance after Perez tests positive again

August 07, 2020 17:11 IST
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Nico Hulkenberg

IMAGE: Ferrari's Charles Leclerc during a press conference ahead of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. Photograph: FIA/Handout via REUTERS

Nico Hulkenberg will continue as a stand-in for Racing Point at Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, on Sunday, after Mexican Sergio Perez again tested positive for COVID-19, the team said on Friday.

The 32-year-old German was drafted in for last weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, alongside Canadian race regular Lance Stroll, but did not start the race after an engine problem.

 

“Sergio’s test has returned a positive result and he will continue to follow the guidance of Public Health England,” Racing Point said. “He is physically well and recovering.”

The team had said on Thursday that Perez’s quarantine period was over and they were waiting on the test to see whether he could race.

Perez first tested positive at Silverstone last week. He revealed then that he had returned to Mexico by private plane to be with his mother, who had suffered an accident and was in hospital, after last month’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg raced for Renault last season but lost his seat to Frenchman Esteban Ocon.

The German, a Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar winner, has never stood on the F1 podium in 177 starts but is stepping into a pink Mercedes-lookalike car capable of challenging the top teams.

“I’m excited to get going again with the team at Silverstone. Last weekend, it was a real step into the unknown having been away from the team for a few years — and driving a car I’d never driven before,” he said.

“I’ve learned a lot in the last week about the RP20, and I am ready to apply my experiences to this weekend. Racing at the same track again makes things a bit easier and the team has done a great job in helping me get up to speed.

“I think we can fight for points this weekend, which is definitely my goal.”

Racing Point fined 400,000 euros, docked 15 points

Formula One stewards fined Racing Point 400,000 euros (360,922.7 pounds) and stripped them of 15 points in the constructors’ championship on Friday after upholding a Renault protest about the legality of their rival’s car.

Renault had protested at the last three races, arguing that the brake ducts used by Racing Point were a copy of those used by Mercedes, their engine partner, in winning last year’s championship.

The governing FIA said in a statement the stewards had upheld the complaints and also handed Racing Point, whose competitive car has been dubbed the ‘Pink Mercedes’, a reprimand.

Racing Point’s drivers — Canadian Lance Stroll and Mexican Sergio Perez — will keep their points.

The team, owned by a consortium led by Canadian Lawrence Stroll, were reminded of their right to appeal under certain circumstances.

The stewards said in a statement that the fine and points deduction — 7.5 points per car for the original protest at the Styrian Grand Prix — was sufficient punishment, however, and the team would not have to redesign their car.

“It is the view of the stewards that the penalty rendered at the Styrian Grand Prix was proportionate for the violation of the design process...and a further penalty of reprimand is sufficient for the Hungarian and British Grands Prix,” they said.

The stewards said the penalty was “intended to penalise the potential advantage Racing Point may have accrued in the brake duct design process” and recognised it was not realistic to expect the team to “unlearn” what it already knew.

They also emphasised the breach was one of the sporting regulations rather than non-compliance with the technical rules and therefore disqualification from the championship was not considered.

Racing Point were in fifth place in the championship on 42 points, 10 points ahead of sixth-placed Renault.

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