The Canadian scored a fourth-place-finish at the opening round of the new season in Bahrain four weeks ago and he hopes to be in the leading pack once again when racing shifts to one of his favourite and most familiar circuits for round two.
Last year, Nicholas steered his DAMS Racing car to an impressive second place in the Feature Race in Spain – becoming the first Canadian driver to score points and finish on the podium in the category.
He was back at the 4.6km circuit two months ago for the F2 pre-season test and is eager to put that recent experience to good use.
“I go to the race feeling quite confident because I showed good pace at the pre-season test and have the potential to be at the front – and that’s always good,” Nicholas said. “Since then, I’ve had another test in Bahrain and then a full race weekend during which the team and I have figured out a few more things.
“Things went well for me in Barcelona last year and I feel quite optimistic going back, knowing that we’ve improved on all fronts.”
Currently lying eighth in the championship, 21-year-old Nicholas who is supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina, has pledged to push hard at Friday’s all important 30-minute qualifying session.
“The goal is to qualify near the front because we didn’t achieve that in Bahrain,” he said. “On a track like Bahrain where tyre degradation is high, the qualifying isn’t as important because you can make a difference in the race. But qualifying well will be much more important in Barcelona. I did that last year so I know it’s possible.
“For the races I want to run cleanly with no incidents. I know if I do that in race one I’ll be in the upper end of the points and set well for race two. The goal is trouble-free runs and good points finishes in both races. There’s no reason why we can’t fight for top fives and podiums.”
If he’s to achieve his targets, one of the hurdles Nicholas will need to overcome in Barcelona is excessive tyre degradation. The characteristics of the Barcelona track are unique and require a different approach to other tracks on the F2 calendar where tyre wear isn’t such a critical factor.
He said: “When it comes to tyre degradation a lot depends on the early summer temperature. It’s normally quite hot and that makes it a track with high degradation because the surface is also quite abrasive.
“Unusually, it’s a track that is harder on the front tyres than the rears – and the fronts can be the limiting factor. That presents a different challenge for how you drive in the race and how you set-up the car. I think that given the track surface we can expect another exciting race.”