Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion, has been ruled out of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday after testing positive for Covid-19.
Nico Hulkenberg will take over as the Aston Martin driver. Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren was forced to skip the last test in Bahrain last week due to coronavirus.
After a negative test, the Australian is fit for race weekend, which starts with practice on Friday.
Hulkenberg, an Aston Martin reserve driver, has not been a full-time F1 driver since 2019, but he has stepped in for others.
In 2020, the German made three appearances as a replacement for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, who both missed races due to coronavirus.
But does that #1 bring extra pressure to a driver? Vettel was asked the question midway through Bahrain’s Official Pre-Season Test.
“To be honest, that was a long time ago for me!” said the four-time champion, who will return to Aston Martin in 2022 for a second season. “What I recall – I think it’s a boost; it lifts a lot of weight off your shoulders in a manner.” However, it’s a fantastic feeling to begin the season as the world champion.
“It’s a luxury to have the number one on your automobile.” We’d all prefer to be in that situation, I believe. It can only be one of us, and no, I don’t consider it a hardship. It was, if anything, a lift. As a result, I believe he will share my sentiments. But again, everyone is unique.”
The season’s second race will take place on March 27 in Saudi Arabia. If German Vettel has previously tested negative, he should be permitted to compete.
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