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- Updated: February 26, 2018
Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg admitted to being rather scared by the lack of grip at Barcelona on the first day of testing ahead of the 2018 season.
The Spanish Grand Prix venue was resurfaced in the weeks leading up to testing, and that directly led to a tricky experience for all drivers.
Hulkenberg was able to complete 73 laps before handing the baton over to Renault teammate Carlos Sainz for what turned out to be a dull afternoon session due to inclement weather conditions.
“It’s quite hard to warm the tyres up now, on the out lap and on the first two or three laps. On my first run I was kind of scared because it felt like driving in the wet,” Hulkenberg said.
“But then when you feel lap by lap it’s getting better, the temperature comes in and the grip comes up as well. So it’s just that scenario we always see in winter testing when the track surface is really cold, it’s quite different.
“This is probably the smoothest track on the calendar now, it’s so flat,” the German added. “It has changed the characteristics of the track also I feel a little bit.
“There were corners like Turn 5 that had banking and some other corners had some warp in them, and now it’s all flat.
“The corners are still the same but you don’t have the cambers anymore. So it did change the track a little bit. The new tarmac feels more grippy. Quite substantially.”
Meanwhile, Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also spoke about how he struggled to come to grips with the surface in Barcelona.
“You have to work pretty hard just to get the tyres up to temperature on a day like this but as a driver on the first day of winter testing you don’t want to do a mistake,” he explained. “We’re all very close to the limit, otherwise the tyres wouldn’t work.
“I think everybody probably had a few moments today with the cold track temperatures because even slowing down to let some traffic through at one corner the temperatures were dropping so drastically that there was always a few challenging moments.”