Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher believes that Aston Martin must look at the prospect of making super-sub Nico Hulkenberg a permanent driver at the team. He went on to reiterate his belief that Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll should be fired with immediate effect.
Hulkenberg has been racing for the team in place of Vettel, who has been recovering after testing positive for COVID-19.
On getting his chance, fan-favourite Hulkenberg managed to outqualify Stroll initially in Bahrain, but eventually lost pace.
In Saudi Arabia, it was unlucky timing as far as the Safety Car was concerned, or it looked like Hulkenberg may well have ended with some decent points.
A collision between Stroll and Williams driver Alex Albon did allow Hulkenberg the opportunity to finish ahead of his teammate though.
This has been enough to convince Schumacher that Hulkenberg deserves a full-time role at the team.
“Let’s move on to Aston Martin. If I were them, I would stick with Nico Hulkenberg because he can obviously bring added value and has improved significantly in the race compared to Bahrain,” Schumacher wrote in his Sky column.
“And that was despite his tyre strategy being affected by the Safety Car. He did a great job, hats off.”
Sack Vettel or Stroll?
Schumacher believes that Aston Martin should sack either Vettel or Stroll to retain Hulkenberg’s services.
“There are really only two possibilities – either he has been underestimated for years or current regular drivers should be reconsidered,” he explained.
Vettel has previously spoken about how he is still hungry to win another world championship.
With his contract set to run out at Aston Martin at the end of the year, this might not be feasible given the current plight of the team.
“We want to progress and win. So, ultimately, having had the path that I have had so far, I’m mostly interested in winning and that will determine what the future brings,” Vettel previously said.
Vettel may not want to endure emotional turmoil
Colin Kolles, who was the team principal at Force India, also believes Vettel may not want to endure a season that looks set to cause him a lot of emotional turmoil.
“I don’t think he wants to drive at all. He just doesn’t want to do that to himself,” he said.
Schumacher, did, however, concede that Vettel will be able to perform better as the season progresses.
“If Sebastian Vettel comes back now, he can surely get a bit more out of the weakening car because he is also more familiar with the car,” he said.
Yet, he issued a word of caution to Aston Martin, saying that Vettel may lose interest if they fail to be competitive this season.
“I could also imagine at least a small upgrade will come from Aston Martin,” he said.
“I can only hope that for Vettel’s sake, because I’m always a bit worried Vettel will quit at some point before he’s permanently just trailing behind.
“But for now, I hope to see him back in the cockpit in Melbourne.”