Nico Hulkenberg on standby for F1 team Racing Point at Portuguese GP after Lance Stroll's coronavirus drama
NICO HULKENBERG is on standby for Racing Point should either of its drivers fail another Covid-19 test at this weekend's Portuguese GP.
The German replaced Lance Stroll, who missed the Eifel GP after complaining of feeling unwell before flying home to Switzerland, where he tested positive.
Hulkenberg also filled in for Sergio Perez in two races at Silverstone after he too tested positive after flying back to Mexico to visit his mum.
Team boss Otmar Szafnauer said: "Nico is here in Portugal and I think other teams have also opted to bring reserve drivers for the first time.
"It just makes sense to have reserve drivers.
"Nico is here as a precaution and I am confident Lance will be in the car this weekend."
Stroll revealed he had tested positive for Covid-19 after missing the Nurburgring race but questions were raised as to why Racing Point did not test him sooner if he was feeling unwell.
The Canadian returned a negative test on Tuesday but did not undergo another test until Sunday evening – despite mixing with his team members.
Szafnauer has defended his team's decision not to test his driver, insisting he was told that his symptoms were not Covid related.
He said: "He had the same symptoms he had in Russia where we tested him twice thereafter and he came back twice negative.
"The one thing Lance did is he called his doctor. So what should I do? So instead of listening to Otmar he called his doctor. I'm not a physician.
"He's Lance's private physician in Switzerland. It was a phone call. It was the same guy Lance saw after Russia.
So what should I do? Instead of listening to Otmar he called his doctor. I'm not a physician.
"So he's got a stomach upset after Russia, we tested him a couple of times, Lance went and saw the doctor in Switzerland so called him."
Meanwhile, in an intriguing twist, Stroll's father Lawrence, who owns Racing Point and Aston Martin, also tested positive for Covid-19 on the same day as his son – despite not being in Russia or Germany.
Szafnauer added: "Lawrence went to Aston Martin that weekend and was there on Thursday where he tested and he got a result on Friday that was negative.
"And then when Lance landed and tested, Lawrence tested at the same time again. And then both tests came back positive."
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