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Formula 1

Nico Hulkenberg replaces Sergio Perez after positive coronavirus test just SEVEN MINUTES before British GP practice

NICO HULKENBERG has been given the all-clear to replace Sergio Perez at the British GP after the Mexican tested positive COVID-19.

In incredible scenes at Silverstone, the German was left to sweat after his first test proved inconclusive.

Nico Hulkenberg is out for his first-ever F1 podium after the shock call-up

Sergio Perez will miss the weekend’s race and is a huge doubt for the whole double-header

Hulkenberg was required to take a second “rapid test” with the results rushed through just seconds before the start of the GP weekend.

Hulkenberg, who drove for Renault last season, will partner Lance Stroll at Racing Point, with Perez facing a spell on the sidelines.

The Mexican could also be in hot water with Racing Points after he revealed he travelled back to his home country after the Hungarian GP.

However, when contacted by last night, Racing Point were unaware he had made the journey.

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His whereabouts raises serious questions about his attitude to the strict Covid Code of Conduct F1 has implemented to get the sport started.

Perez, who lives in Madrid, is understood to have travelled back to Spain in between the first triple-header in Austria and Hungary.

And now F1 chiefs could revise their code to put strict measures in place to prevent an outbreak.

Perez already faces an uncertain future at the team, as Sebastian Vettel has been linked with a seat at the team in 2021 when it will be rebranded as Aston Martin F1.

Perez released a grovelling video in which he expressed his sadness at missing the British GP.

He said: “I am extremely sad. It is one of the saddest days of my career. The amount of preparation that we put into the weekend, to be 100 per cent ready for it. I knew I had a great car underneath me and the team has done a fantastic job.

“I’m really sad that this happened, but this shows just how vulnerable we all are with this virus.

“I followed all the instructions from the FIA, from my team. After Hungary I took a private plane to go to Mexico, to see my mum for two days because she had a big accident.

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“So as soon as she left hospital, I was able to see her. And then I came back to Europe. Same way, all the protocols in place.

“I don’t know from where [I caught it]. I have no symptoms at all. So it just shows how vulnerable we are on this.

“I want to thank all my fellow drivers for all the support that they’ve given me. My team. The authorities. The fans.

“Certainly tough moments for me at the moment, but I’m sure I will come back stronger from this.”

Hulkenberg’s unexpected return to F1 came just as he was heading to another racing event.

He added: “I was on my way to the Nürburgring for another racing project when the call from Otmar [Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal] came.

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“That was less than 24 hours ago, so it feels a bit surreal for me right now, but I like a good challenge and this is certainly one. It’s obviously a difficult situation for Racing Point and Checo.

“He’s a buddy of mine, an old team-mate and I wish him a speedy recovery. I’ll step in and try do the best I can for the team.”

Meanwhile, Williams are paying tribute to the NHS and key workers with a “Thank You” message on their car in Silverstone.

The Oxford-based team will be hoping for their first points of the season after promising moments from young racers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi.

Williams are paying tribute to key workers in the UK for their part in battling the pandemic

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