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Nico Hulkenberg, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team
Nico Hulkenberg, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

The European run of races continue as we return to Barcelona. Nico looks ahead to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

Round 8 of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship takes us just over 300 miles southwest of Monaco to Barcelona, for the Spanish Grand Prix. Your best finish came in 2017, collecting sixth place, what do you like about the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?

“It’s a hard neck workout, especially with the revised circuit layout with the last two corners being the old configuration. It means it’s faster, it’s less low-speed because that last low-speed chicane has been cut out. I think the average speed will go up by quite a bit, from a medium to high-speed track, and it’s definitely more demanding. 

“Obviously Barcelona is a place we know very well from the past with all the winter testing we’ve done there. I feel like I’ve done a million laps around there. I’m looking forward to exploring that last sector. Barcelona is a cool city, has great food so no complaints traveling there.” 

 

Changes to the track have been made for this season with the chicane that was added in 2007 at Turns 14-15 being removed, the widening of the run-off area in Turn 1, and the official track length being 18 meters shorter than the previous track. As a driver who opts not to do track walks, how do you get to grips with little changes throughout a lap, or after one practice session does it feel comfortable? 

“I think it’s actually quite nice for a change because, for a lot of drivers that have been around for many years, they’ve felt a little tired of because you have pre-season testing there and some other testing during the year there, so it does get a bit one-sided, so now I’m a bit more excited to go there without testing. I haven’t raced there since 2019.”

 

Some media have been interested in the fact you’ve been using a simulator throughout the season. How does that help you personally and how does your program differ from when it’s a new track versus one you’ve raced on previously?

“Many teams and drivers do it now and we use the simulator to maximize the preparation process before the weekend, running and trying out several different set-up options to come to the track with the best possible start set-up which I think has worked well so far this year.

"It’s a tool to develop the car but also to understand the set-up direction we want to take and for me personally, to learn some of the new tracks like Miami, Imola – which didn’t happen – but it’s good for a driver to learn new tracks in the simulator and not start at zero. We try to do half a day running where in that time you do 40 to 50 laps, so you start at 50, 60 percent track knowledge.”

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