As part of his test driver duties, 21-year-old Nicholas was drafted in to drive the team’s R.S.17 during a Pirelli tyre test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on 17 May. The F2 race winner took over from regular driver Jolyon Palmer who was behind the wheel the day before.
Nicholas, who is associated with Renault Sport Formula One Team as a part of a long-term programme, completed 141 laps of the 4.65km track during the test – a distance that totalled more than two Grands Prix.
The test marked Nicholas’s first experience of a current-generation turbo-hybrid Formula One car and he thoroughly enjoyed his on-track opportunity.
“It was an honour and a privilege to drive the R.S.17 in a Pirelli test in Barcelona,” the Canadian said. “It was an amazing opportunity to drive a modern day F1 car. The downforce, the bigger tyres, it was a cool experience.
“I found it quite easy to get up to speed and actually that surprised me. I approached it the same way as I approach any car. I was a bit uncertain before I jumped in, but after two laps I was fine. I had a big grin under the helmet when I drove it out of the pit lane, it was very impressive.
“There was so much grip, I was able to push very early which was good. I had a whole day in the car and I had to get up to speed quickly for the tyre test to get the right data for them. I think I did 141 laps in the end, I wasn’t sure what to expect physically. These new cars have high Gs, I was happy to do so many laps. I admit, my neck was quite sore the next day!”
Nicholas, a driver with the DAMS Racing team in the FIA Formula Two Championship, is proudly supported by Lavazza, Royal Bank of Canada and Sofina in 2017.