Nico Hulkenberg was called in by Racing Point to replace Lance Stroll for qualifying at the German Grand Prix after it was announced that Stroll is unwell.
Just before the start of Free Practice three, the team announced on Twitter that Stroll was “not feeling 100%” and would therefore not participate in the session.
As a result, only Sergio Perez clocked a time on Saturday morning finishing the practice session in seventh.
Whilst the cars were out on track, Hulkenberg was spotted parking his Porsche at the circuit, sparking rumours that Stroll would not be making an appearance in qualifying.
It was then confirmed that Stroll would be out for qualifying with Hulkenberg filling in, rather than the Racing Point reserve driver, Stoffel Vandoorne.
The team seemed to be hopeful that they could still qualify high enough and were eager to see Hulkenberg through to the second qualifying session at least. They will be looking to collect as many points as they can this weekend to try and close the gap to rival team McLaren who is only two points ahead in the constructors’ championship.
Speaking to Sky F1, the team said, “Stoffel is our official reserve driver who is here, but Nico has driven our car before and as you know, that goes a long way.
“He hasn’t turned a wheel here yet. I think we’re going to send him out so he can learn the track, he knows the car, and see if we can get him out of Q1.
“Once he does get into Q2, by that time he’s got some laps under his belt and we’ll see what he can do.
“We briefed him, he made it here in good time, the boys got the car ready for him. It’s just the fact that he hasn’t driven this car on this track. He knows the track, he knows the car but not the combination.”
Despite the positivity, he could only manage 20th fastest in the first session of qualifying, meaning he’ll start tomorrow’s race at the back of the grid.
Fortunately for Hulkenberg, he is not at too much of a disadvantage for this weekend despite only driving this car at Nürburgring for the first time in this qualifying session.
Because the first two free practice sessions were cancelled on Friday due to bad weather, the other drivers have only had free practice three to experience the track.
This plays into Hulkenberg’s hands nicely, as it means he will not have fallen too far behind the other drivers in terms of getting to know the track and will hopefully mean he can make up some places in the race.