Stroll "couldn't get off the toilet" to drive for Racing Point
Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer has revealed Lance Stroll was so ill he was unable to "get off the toilet" to compete in this weekend's Eifel Grand Prix.
Szafnauer claims Stroll has been unwell since the last race in Russia a fortnight ago, but has since passed multiple tests for Covid-19.
In combination with what appears to be a stomach upset, it left the Canadian in no fit state to take part in final practice and the qualifying session, which forced the team to call up Nico Hülkenberg.
“He hasn't been feeling great since Russia," confirmed Szafnauer. "He had kind of flu-like symptoms. Just not well in himself, and couldn't exercise
"At first, we thought, ‘Well you had better get tested for the virus.’ We've tested him multiple times, including the pre-event test for this race [on Tuesday], and he's come back negative three, four times. He doesn't have the classic Covid-19 symptoms, he just doesn't feel well in himself.
“And last night he had a bit of an upset stomach. So he was on the toilet the whole time, and he said, ‘I've got rid of a lot of fluid, and I can't get off the toilet for long enough to get in the race car.’
"I don't know if it's something he ate, or if it's a tummy bug. He just said, ‘I'm just not feeling up to it'.
"I talked to him and he said 'Look we're going to have a double-header coming up soon and I’d rather rest and get ready for that.’
"We've got a doctor looking after him and when he's fit to leave, he'll go home.”
Szafnauer has confirmed the call for Hülkenberg was made "30 minutes before FP3" once Stroll finally decided he would not be able to drive.
"He was still thinking, ‘I want to do this'," added Szafnauer. "But then he thought, ‘Well, if I don't get better then I’ve got to qualify, and then I’ve got to race.’ It's the race that he wasn't really looking forward to, in the state that he was in.
“He was hoping that he could get off the toilet and come in. But it was 30 minutes before FP3. Otherwise, yesterday, we would have called Hülkenberg a day earlier, and he would have done FP3.”
Fortunately for Racing Point, Hülkenberg was in Cologne en route to the circuit as he was due to undertake TV work with RTL.
The German will start last on the grid as he had no time to acclimatise to a car that has changed since his last outing at Silverstone across the weekends of the British and 70th Anniversary Grands Prix when he deputised for Sergio Perez following a positive Covid test.
Appreciating it was "a huge ask" for Hülkenberg, Szafnauer said: "We're just thankful that he got within the 107% rule. That's what we wanted to do so he could race tomorrow.
"He's got a decent race car underneath him. He's done a few laps now, and if he gets a good start, he's got a chance at points.
"We made some changes to the car since he drove it last. He was surprised by the changes that we made. He said the car felt different because of it. He's got to get used to it.
"Overall, he was happy the balance wasn't that far off. He did say some of the changes we made surprised him. If you are not used to driving the updates that we brought to the car, you are definitely going to go slower.”
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