Tagged in: driver

Hulkenberg joins Aston Martin as reserve, development driver

Nico Hulkenberg has been presented as Aston Martin’s official Formula One reserve and development driver this season, the team stated on Thursday.

The experienced German stood in for Mexican Sergio Perez and Canadian Lance Stroll last year when the Silverstone-based team competed as Racing Point, with both drivers testing positive for COVID-19.

Perez has since moved to Red Bull, with Germany’s four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel arriving from Ferrari.

Hulkenberg, 33, is a Le Mans 24 Hours winner and has started 176 F1 grands prix in a career that started with Williams in 2010 and included stints with Racing Point’s predecessors Force India.

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“It’s great to get this deal signed up with plenty of notice,” Hulkenberg said in a statement. “Last year, I didn’t have quite as much time to prepare before jumping in the car.

“Obviously, I’m hoping that Sebastian and Lance enjoy uninterrupted seasons this year, but the team knows it can rely on me to step in and do an excellent job.”

The German had also been linked to a reserve role at champions Mercedes, who provide Aston Martin’s engines.

Mercedes have Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne and Dutch driver Nyck de Vries as reserves but both are competing in Formula E and the calendars overlap at some races this season.

The role has become more important during the pandemic, with Mercedes calling on Williams driver George Russell in Bahrain last December when seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton contracted the virus.

McLaren have an agreement with Mercedes to use their reserve drivers if needed.

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Alonso discharged from hospital following cycling accident

Alpine Formula One driver Fernando Alonso has been discharged from hospital following a road traffic accident last week.

Alonso was knocked off his bike while cycling in Switzerland on Thursday and underwent corrective surgery on his upper jaw as a result of his injuries.

After a period of 48 hours observation following the surgery, Alonso left hospital on Monday and will keep his recovery at home.

“He will now have a short period of complete rest before progressively resuming training to undertake preparation for the start of the season,” a statement from the Alpine team said.

Alonso, a two-time F1 champion, returns to the series this campaign after two years racing in other categories.

He became a two-time World Endurance Champion with Toyota while away from F1, which incorporated two victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2018. His quest to become only the second driver to collect the Triple Crown — victories at the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and Indy 500 — has been put on hold.

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Alonso entered the Indy 500 in 2017 and 2020, and failed to qualify in 2019, but will not be competing in the event while he is contracted to Alpine’s F1 operation.

He is due to take part in pre-season testing in Bahrain between March 12-14 before the first race of the new season gets underway on March 28 at the same circuit.

The incident did lead to some doubt over Alonso’s fitness ahead of the new campaign, only for Alpine to say last week that it expected him to be “fully operational to undertake preparation for the season.”

Alonso tweeted last Friday that he was “OK and looking forward to getting 2021 underway”, with his extending first outing in the Alpine A521 car due to come in pre-season testing in Bahrain.

Alpine is yet to ratify launch plans for its new car, but will take the covers off prior to the start of the running at the Bahrain International Circuit on 12-14 March.

The new season will then get underway on 28 March with the Bahrain Grand Prix at the same circuit. It will mark Alonso’s maiden outing with the Enstone-based team since his final appearance with the squad in 2009, having also won both of his world titles in Renault colors in 2005 and 2006.

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