Nico Hülkenberg was delighted with his Friday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, particularly in second practice where he surprised to finish third fastest overall.
The MoneyGram Haas F1 Team driver, who has scored only one top ten finish in the opening six races of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, was happy that the team were able to find some performance in between the two sessions on Friday that gave him a chance to jump up into the top three.
Hülkenberg found a good rhythm throughout the day and felt at home inside the cockpit, something that gives him high hopes for a strong weekend to come.
“It felt decent, especially that lap on new softs, it gives you a lot of grip over one lap,” said Hülkenberg. “Particularly in FP2, I think we picked up some performance which wasn’t quite there earlier.
“I’m satisfied with how it’s gone and hope we can keep it up for the next two days. There’s always more to explore, there’s always more to do, but I had a good rhythm today and felt at home in the car.
“I felt like I was in the driving seat which is important – especially around here – it’s been a positive Friday.”
“We know the speed is in the car” – Kevin Magnussen
Team-mate Kevin Magnussen was unable to match Hülkenberg in the second session, ending just over half a second back, but that gap meant he ended up fifteenth fastest.
Magnussen had shown good pace in the opening session by placing seventh fastest, but a change to the set-up of his VF-23 for the second session did not work as they had hoped it would.
However, Hülkenberg’s pace on the other side of the garage gives Magnussen confidence that Haas could be in for a strong weekend, even though the field is extremely closely matched at this stage.
“Today was fun,” said Magnussen. “The new layout is pretty full-on, it’s a good change.
“FP1 was very good for us, we tried something that didn’t work in FP2 but Nico was fast, so we know the speed is in the car and we’ll work tonight as we always do to try and get on that pace tomorrow.
“It’s super tight, I was P15 and seven tenths off P1 which is crazy, but it is what it is and means we have something to fight for.”