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Aston Martin wary of Hulkenberg departure as IndyCar beckons

Aston Martin are aware they may need to find a new reserve driver for 2022, with Nico Hulkenberg eyeing up a switch to the IndyCar series.

Following Nico Hulkenberg's successful test with Arrow McLaren SP last week in Alabama, Aston Martin have acknowledged that they may need to find a new reserve driver for 2022. Hulkenberg, who is currently the team's reserve if Sebastian Vettel or Lance Stroll are forced to miss a race, arranged a test with the Arrow McLaren outfit at Barber Motorsports Park, admitting that he's evaluating a switch to the series, as his opportunities to rejoin Formula 1 on a full-time basis have all but vanished. "I think so, under the right circumstances, yes," Hulkenberg told Autosport, when asked about whether he'd switch to the IndyCar series. "This is not my decision, that's the team's decision, how many cars they put in the championship. But we need to walk before we run. "I'm going to do the test, and after that I'll obviously know more about it. And then we'll sit down together and talk." Hulkenberg made three appearances with Racing Point in 2020, prior to their rebrand as Aston Martin, standing in for Stroll and Sergio Perez when they contracted COVID-19. Since then, he's been watching from the sidelines and, with almost every single seat filled for 2022, is open about admitting his F1 chances appear to have ended. Aston Martin's Otmar Szafnauer told RacingNews365.com that they want to keep communication open with Hulkenberg as they look ahead to next season. "I think what we're going to do is see how Nico gets on in IndyCar first, have a discussion with him as to what he wants to do next year, and then decide," Szafnauer said. While a move to the McLaren IndyCar team isn't happening for 2022, Hulkenberg's opening of links with the squad could be beneficial, as McLaren CEO Zak Brown said that the F1 veteran is a contender for a third McLaren cockpit in '23. "I think IndyCar rewards aggressive drivers, and I consider Nico to be a guy who gets up on the wheel, as they say – an American term," Brown told Autosport. "I'm very excited to see him. I think he'll enjoy it, I think Fernando [Alonso] has enjoyed IndyCar, [Marcus] Ericsson's enjoyed IndyCar. "We definitely won't a run a full-time third car [next] year. We will run at a car at Indianapolis, and we intend to run a third car later [next] year in anticipation of a full-time programme for a third car in 2023. "Nico wants to see what IndyCar is about, and we'll see how Nico gets on. And that will all be part of the process once we pull the trigger on that third car, who might be in that car. Nico is right towards the top of the list." While Hulkenberg has a young family, he's prepared to up roots to start afresh in the United States. "I mean, that's very doable, especially with a baby," he told Autosport. "Because you don't have to really take kids from school and stuff. It's actually the time to do it."

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Good morning from Barber.👋 @HulkHulkenberg pic.twitter.com/3O73hy0WId — Arrow McLaren SP (@ArrowMcLarenSP) October 25, 2021

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