Hülkenberg has not competed in F1 full-time since 2019, but this weekend could see him extend his streak as the driver with the most starts without a podium if he makes lights out.
Vettel is the ninth F1 driver to test positive for Covid-19 and the fifth to miss a race due to it. Daniel Ricciardo recently contracted the virus, causing him to miss the whole of the second 2022 pre-season test in Bahrain, but has now been cleared to race.
Despite not driving the new car in testing, Hülkenberg is at less of a disadvantage than he was in his previous mid-season substitute appearances.
Writing just yesterday in a LinkedIn post, he said that this year’s drivers would have a feeling of how well the car might suit them “but everyone starts from zero”.
“No-one really knows where they stand and, above all, how well or badly the other teams will cope with the new regulations,” he wrote.
“That’s exactly why I like this period so much. It’s the mix of anticipation and the knowledge that you have a white piece of paper in front of you.”