The GP2 Series heads to Monte Carlo this weekend for its second round of the season and Nicholas is hoping to back up his P2 and P7 finishes at round one in Barcelona with another strong performance on Monaco’s famous street circuit.
The Canadian has spent the time between each round preparing with his DAMS Racing team at its base in Le Mans and he feels he’s ready to take on the unique challenge that Monaco presents.
“Monaco is definitely the race that I’ve been most looking forward to on the 2016 calendar,” the 20-year-old says. “Street tracks are a challenge that I enjoy; it’s the thrill of driving between the walls with the extra pressure of knowing that if you make a mistake it will cost you.”
Monaco will be the third street circuit that Renault Sport Formula One Team Test Driver Nicholas has raced on during his career – after Pau and Macau – and he took some valuable experience away from the Mediterranean Principality in 2015 when he raced there in the Formula Renault 3.5 series.
But, given the unique challenge that the tight and twisty Monaco circuit presents, Nicholas is acutely aware that it’s hard to predict an outcome. As with other street circuits, preparation will be the key to success this weekend.
He says: “Monaco is, like other street tracks, a bit of a lottery. Everyone tests at Barcelona so you have an idea of the progress that people are making. But Monaco is completely different as it’s a track that’s only there once a season.
“I’ve studied the Monaco races from the past few years in GP2 to analyse the characteristics of the track and the race. What’s clear is you do see some overtaking – but not a lot. There are only one or two places to overtake if you have a sheer pace advantage and are much quicker than the guys in front.
“That’s why it’s so vital to have a clean weekend and to do as many laps as possible so you can take confidence into qualifying. It’s important to start at the front if you want a good result in Monaco. But you also have to be smart. There’s no sense taking any unnecessary risks because you’ll find yourself at the back of the grid.”
Nicholas, whose 2016 GP2 campaign is proudly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina, heads to Monaco holding fourth place in the GP2 Series drivers’ standings. But he knows he’ll need to be on top of his game if he’s going to add to his championship points haul in Friday and Saturday’s GP2 races.
“Barcelona was a strong weekend but the team and I are taking nothing for granted,” he explains. “The focus this season is on learning and building my experience in GP2. There’s a lot of hard work still to do. If we can qualify at the front and do well in both races that will be a good return on a tricky circuit.”