Nico Hulkenberg will race for Aston Martin in the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, as regular driver Sebastian Vettel has tested positive for Covid-19. Vettel is the second driver to test positive for Covid-19 in Bahrain, after McLaren driver, Daniel Ricciardo, tested positive for the virus during pre-season testing, but is clear to return for the first race of the season.

Hulkenberg steps into the shoes of Vettel as the Aston Martin reserve driver, and he will be in the AMR22 from practice 1 onwards.

The Silverstone-Based Team’s Super-Sub

Hulkenberg is certainly no stranger to deputizing for the Silverstone-based Aston Martin team. The German drove for the team (formerly Racing Point) three times in 2020, twice at Silverstone deputizing for Sergio Perez and also at the Nürburgring when Lance Stroll was unwell.

While he knows the team inside-out, this will be Hulkenberg’s first time driving the radical and totally new 2022 car, which means he is in for a steep learning curve ahead of qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday. The consolation is the AMR22 has proved to be reliable in testing.

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Hoping For A Swift Recovery

Seb Vettel AMR22 Bahrain Pre-Season Testing 2022
via Aston Martin F1 Twitter

All being well, Vettel will make his return for the following race in Saudi Arabia, one week later. Ricciardo was able to leave isolation early after several negative tests and is already back in the paddock ahead of the first Grand Prix.

The two positive tests for Ricciardo and Vettel comes after F1 relaxed its Covid-19 testing regime, with PCR tests now only recommended, not mandatory. The bubble system in place throughout 2020 and 2021 is now gone and the paddock almost back to how it was in 2019, though at present, face masks are still required.

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What Hulkenberg Can Expect To Achieve

Aston Martin AMR22 Rear Quarter View
via Aston Martin F1 Twitter

It's difficult to know what Hulkenberg can achieve in his outing for Aston Martin. He has simulator experience of the 2022 car, but no real seat time. With the cars totally different from the 2020 and 2021 cars, it is perhaps unlikely he will be able to score big points if the car is good enough. But Hulkenberg is an experienced F1 driver who has an awful lot of speed, so he is the ideal candidate to step into the shoes of Vettel for this weekend.

Source: Aston Martin F1 Team

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