Hulkenberg replaces Perez at Racing Point for British Grand Prix

By Sports Desk July 31, 2020

Nico Hulkenberg will make his return to the Formula One grid with Racing Point this weekend as Sergio Perez's replacement for the British Grand Prix.

It was confirmed on Thursday that Perez would be unable to race at Silverstone having tested positive for coronavirus, meaning he would have to self-isolate along with some members of the Racing Point team.

Racing Point needed another driver to join Lance Stroll for the fourth round of the 2020 season and have called in Hulkenberg.

The 32-year-old, who has started 177 grands prix but never finished on the podium, had been without a seat after leaving Renault following the 2019 season.

Hulkenberg has familiarity with the team having raced for Racing Point's previous incarnation Force India in 2012 and between 2014 and 2016.

A statement from Racing Point read: "Nico's experience of racing in contemporary Formula One and his strong track record ensure he is the ideal driver to stand in for Sergio Perez this weekend.

"In a bid to minimise disruption and ensure the best possible chance of building upon the team's strong start to the 2020 campaign, Nico's familiarity with the team will prove invaluable."

Having seen Racing Point call in a veteran driver for the race, former F1 world champion Jenson Button - who has not raced in the sport since 2017 - jokingly tweeted: ".@RacingPointF1 Have you lost my number?"

Prior to the Hulkenberg announcement, Perez explained he had returned home to Mexico to see his mother after she was involved in an accident, and the 30-year-old was unsure how he had contracted COVID-19.

"I'm extremely sad, definitely one of the saddest days in my career," he said in a video posted on his Twitter account.

"The amount of preparation that we put into this weekend - to be 100 per cent ready for it - I know I had a great car, that the team had done a fantastic job, I'm really sad that this happened. But it does show how vulnerable we all are to this virus. 

"I followed all the instructions from the FIA, from my team. After Hungary we prepared a plane to go to Mexico to see my mum for two days because she had an accident.

"As soon as she left hospital I was able to see her. Then I came back to Europe the same way, with all the protocols in place, and I just got [coronavirus], I don't know from where. 

"I have no symptoms at all so it just shows how vulnerable we all are to this."

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  • MotoGP 2020: Starting grid and preview for the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix MotoGP 2020: Starting grid and preview for the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix

    Maverick Vinales has another golden opportunity to put himself firmly in the MotoGP title picture when he starts on pole at Misano on Sunday. 

    Vinales was on pole for the San Marino Grand Prix last time out but was unable to convert that position into a victory, finishing down in sixth. 

    The Spaniard is 18 points adrift of Andrea Dovizioso in a wide-open fight to replace the injured Marc Marquez as world champion. 

    However, he is in the prime spot to vault up the standings after an error by Francesco Bagnaia gave him pole for the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix. 

    Yet the owner of the lap record at Misano cannot afford to take anything for granted ahead of what looks set to be a fascinating fight for the chequered flag.

    WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING

    Bagnaia should have been celebrating a maiden MotoGP pole - and another Misano lap record - having smashed the previous mark in FP3. 

    He crossed the line on his final flying lap in one minute and 30.973 seconds, a time that would have seen him top the timesheets. 

    However, he crucially exceeded the track limits on the final turn, an infraction that saw his lap struck off and both pole position and the record handed to Vinales.

    Vinales will have Jack Miller and Fabio Quartararo for company on the front row, with Bagnaia dropping to fifth as a result of his error. 

    Championship leader Dovizioso heads the fourth row, with Franco Morbidelli - winner of the San Marino Grand Prix - sandwiched between Valentino Rossi and Danilo Petrucci on the third row. 

    THE STARTING GRID

    1. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha), 2. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), 3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
    4. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), 5. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), 6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
    7. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha), 8. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha), 9. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
    10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), 11. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar), 12. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda)
    13. Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), 14. Johann Zarco (Avintia), 15. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)
    16. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), 17. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda), 18. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
    19. Bradley Smith (Aprilia), 20. Tito Rabat (Avintia)

    EMILIA ROMAGNA GRAND PRIX TALKING POINTS

    The searing pace displayed by Bagnaia will be a topic of discussion despite his phenomenal last flying lap counting for nothing. 

    He and team-mate Miller will surely pose a significant threat to Vinales, though Quartararo is concerned about some of his title rivals positioned further back on the starting grid. 

    Joan Mir of Suzuki trails Dovizioso by 16 points, but he produced a disappointing display in Q2 and starts 11th. However, with Quartararo branding the Suzuki "a perfect bike", a charge through the field from Mir is not out of the question.

    "Yes, I'm worried because they are fast in the straight, they are fast in acceleration to overtake people, they are so fast," Quartararo said on Thursday.

    WHAT THE RIDERS SAID

    Maverick Vinales (pole): "This weekend I tried to work always with a race setting. We make an improvement. Last weekend the bike always feels good without fuel but with fuel on the race I struggle a lot. This weekend we work a lot and it seems that we make an improvement. We wish it will work for the race."

    Jack Miller (2nd): "When we got to Q2 I only had one tyre, so it was kind of a one-shot wonder. Anyway, we made it, not a bad qualifying, I was lucky to get the two off Pecco [Bagnaia]."

    Fabio Quartararo (3rd): "Feeling great to be on the front row, that is really important. Our race pace is looking good. I'm happy because we have a good base for tomorrow."

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Riders

    1. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 76
    2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) 70
    3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) 64
    4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 60
    5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 58

    Teams

    1. Petronas Yamaha 127
    2. Monster Energy Yamaha 116
    3. Ducati 101
    4. Suzuki Ecstar 100
    5. Pramac Racing 97

  • Bagnaia hands second successive Misano pole to Vinales with costly late error Bagnaia hands second successive Misano pole to Vinales with costly late error

    Maverick Vinales claimed his second successive pole position at Misano as an error from Francesco Bagnaia saw him miss out on the front row in a dramatic qualifying session for the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix.

    Bagnaia, who smashed the Misano lap record in third practice, found searing pace as the Pramac Racing rider attempted to deny Vinales.

    He crossed the line in one minute and 30.973 seconds, which would have seen him take a first career pole and set the first 1:30 lap at the Marco Simoncelli circuit.

    However, his lap was immediately expunged as Bagnaia exceeded the track limits on the final turn, handing pole to Vinales after his lap record of 1:31.077.

    Bagnaia dropped to fifth, with Jack Miller and Fabio Quartararo completing the front row behind Vinales.

    The KTMs of Pol Espargaro and Brad Binder were fourth and sixth respectively, while championship leader Andrea Dovizioso will have work to do to hold on to his six-point lead over Quartararo.

    Dovizioso was 10th behind Ducati team-mate Danilo Petrucci, the fourth row completed by Joan Mir and Takaaki Nakagami.

    LCR Honda's Nakagami went off at turn 15 in FP4 and repeated that error in Q2, wrecking his second bike of the race week and leaving him to settle for 12th on the grid.

    Provisional classification

    1. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 1:31.077s
    2. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +0.076s
    3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) +0.145s
    4. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +0.231s
    5. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) +0.236s
    6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +0.312s
    7. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.359s
    8. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +0.489s
    9. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) +0.497s
    10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) +0.504s
    11. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.540s
    12. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +1.207s

     

     

  • MotoGP 2020: Marquez stand-in Bradl to sit out Emilia-Romagna GP MotoGP 2020: Marquez stand-in Bradl to sit out Emilia-Romagna GP

    Repsol Honda rider Stefan Bradl will miss the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix because of an arm injury.

    Bradl has filled in for Marc Marquez - the six-time world champion who broke an arm in the MotoGP season opener at Jerez - but is battling ongoing issues in his own right arm.

    The German competed in the first practice session at Misano but was 1.3 seconds adrift of Fabio Quartararo, who set the pace with a time of one minute and 31.271 seconds.

    Following discussions with Honda, Bradl will sit out the rest of the race weekend.

    "Unfortunately, I am still having problems with my right arm and I am unable to ride in a safe and consistent way," Bradl said.

    "I spoke with my doctor and we performed a small operation to clean the nerve before this weekend, but when they opened the arm they saw the situation was more complicated than they first thought.

    "I came to Misano with the intention of racing because my doctor told me it would be okay to race. But in this situation, I do not feel I can ride safely over a whole race, together with HRC [Honda Racing Corporation] we have decided to take the rest of the week to recover before Barcelona."

    FP2 saw Brad Binder of KTM lead the way with a lap of 1:31.628.

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