Ross Brawn hailed Nico Hulkenberg after a seventh-place finish on his return to Formula 1® and revealed Mercedes almost signed the German in 2012.
Hulkenberg was unable to secure a drive for 2020 after a disappointing season at Renault last time out.
But the 32-year-old has been thrust back into the thick of the action due to Racing Point driver Sergio Perez contracting coronavirus.
Perez missed the Silverstone double-header, although car issues prevented Hulkenberg from starting the British Grand Prix.
He was back involved for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, however, and came seventh after a very impressive qualifying performance saw him third on the grid.
Formula 1® managing director Brawn was certainly impressed, but he admitted to long being a Hulkenberg fan, having considered the then Force India man when he brought Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes.
And Brawn believes Hulkenberg is deserving of another opportunity in the sport.
"It was going to be an incredible physical challenge for Nico Hulkenberg," he wrote in his column for F1®'s official website.
"I don't know how much he hurt at the end of the race, but it was great performance all weekend by someone who had just been dropped in the deep end.
"I almost signed him years ago, when I was in charge at Mercedes. If Lewis hadn't joined Mercedes when he did, Nico was our next choice.
"I've always respected Nico enormously as a driver. He's a very strong driver who should be in Formula 1®."