Hülkenberg shines on F1 return ahead of British Grand Prix; Verstappen leads the way
Nico Hülkenberg quickly settled back into Formula 1 life after being cleared to replace Sergio Perez at Racing Point just minutes before the start of the first practice session for the British Grand Prix.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen led the way at Silverstone on the hottest day of the year in the UK to date, but it was all eyes on Hülkenberg and his return to a team with whom he previously drove for four seasons.
The German driver was given the nod after it was announced on Thursday that Perez would miss this weekend's race after testing positive for Covid-19.
Aside from complaining at one point about a sore bum cheek due a pressure point, Hulkenberg proved himself admirably in a car many observers believe has a chance of being on the podium, a feat he has yet to achieve in his F1 career from 177 starts.
The 32-year-old finished ninth on the timesheet, 1.170 seconds behind Verstappen, and just six-tenths of a second down behind team-mate Lance Stroll.
Verstappen finished with a time of one minute 27.422secs, 0.474s clear of Lewis Hamilton, but with the Dutch driver on the soft-compound tyre and the six-time F1 champion on the medium in his Mercedes.
Behind Stroll in third, also on the medium Pirellis, the soft-shod second Red Bull of Alex Albon was fourth quickest, with seven-tenths separating the team-mates.
For the four-time F1 champion, the session lasted all of two installation laps before an issue with the intercooler system forced his race team into stripping down the SF1000 to source and rectify the fault before FP2.
And for Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo, drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi suffered their own issues, with both spinning off track within a matter of minutes of one another.
Raikkonen's off-track moment saw him slide into the gravel at Luffield, while Giovinazzi locked up coming out of Becketts, notably stripping the left-rear tyre.
The Italian's return to the pits, though, was too hasty as he left rubber across the track and eventually parts of the floor, which angered the stewards.
FIA race director Michael Masi was forced to red flag the session to clear the debris, and has summoned Giovinazzi to a stewards' hearing for being in contravention of article 27.4 of the sporting regulations.
The rule states that: "At no time may a car be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person."
Giovinazzi and Raikkonen finished 17th and 18th on the timesheet, both just over 2.5s adrift, with Nicholas Latifi bringing up the rear of those with a time on the board, but 3.281s down in his Williams.
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