Nicklas Nielsen was born in Hørning (Denmark) on 6 February 1997. He is an emerging driver on the international endurance racing scene and, since December, has been an official Ferrari Competizioni GT driver. This is his first interview since the announcement of his promotion to factory driver.
Q: “What was your reaction to the announcement?”
A: “Happiness and satisfaction, because becoming an official Ferrari driver is something I have dreamed about for a long time and is a huge step forward in my career.”
Q: “What does this appointment mean to you?”
A: “Huge excitement. Joining this group of drivers means becoming part of Ferrari’s history, something incredible and that I still find hard to believe.”
Q: “For many drivers, becoming an official driver is a goal to achieve. What about you?”
A: “It’s the same for me too, but becoming a Ferrari driver is special, incomparable. This promotion represents a new beginning.”
After his karting beginnings and his debut in German Formula 4, Nielsen chose a career in closed-wheel cars, beginning with the Ferrari Challenge on the weekend of the Finali Mondiali 2017. It was a winning start, as the Dane fully exploited the qualities of the 488 Challenge. Indeed, he dominated the 2018 season with ten victories and a podium finish in every race. This brought him the European series title and the world title in the Finali Mondiali at Monza.
Q: “How important was the Ferrari Challenge to your career?”
A: “The Ferrari Challenge played a fundamental role in my training, the launchpad for a career in GT cars. This championship offered me the chance to learn, to approach the Ferrari world and to grow as a driver. I achieved excellent results in this series, which allowed me to start this wonderful journey.”
Nielsen’s performance didn’t go unnoticed and neither did his chemistry with Ferrari’s cars. The highly formative nature of the Prancing Horse’s one-make racing car meant that he felt perfectly at ease behind the wheel of the 488 GTE of Luzich Racing in the European Le Mans Series. It was an exhilarating season with four wins out of six races, at the end of which he was crowned champion with teammates Alessandro Pier Guidi and Fabien Lavergne, earning the ‘Rookie of the year’ award.
Q: “You were named ‘Rookie of the year’ after an excellent season in the ELMS. Did you expect such a debut?”
A: “It’s always hard to know what awaits before a championship begins. However, I knew I could count on a top-level team, a great car and two wonderful teammates in Pier Guidi and Lavergne. The conditions were all there for us to be competitive and in the fight, but I think that the results we achieved exceeded our expectations and those of the team.”
The final part of the season also saw Nielsen compete on a much more demanding front, the FIA WEC World Championship, in which he drove together with Perrodo and Collard at the wheel of the 488 GTE of AF Corse in the LMGTE Am class. Victory in his first race, high-level performances and the championship lead at the halfway mark made for a debut that impressed many, not only the professionals.
Q: “What, to date, has been your best race in a Ferrari?”
A: “I think the race at Silverstone was one of the best. It was a special victory, which I won’t forget easily, because I climbed the top step of the podium in my world championship debut race. It was a deserved team victory.”
Like any self-respecting driver, Nielsen was inspired by a champion from the past. In the case of the Dane, it’s a true legend who holds a special place in the history of the Prancing Horse: Michael Schumacher.
Q: “Which driver inspired you or did you particularly admire?”
A: “Michael Schumacher, without a doubt. My memories of Ferrari are of him competing in fantastic races. I have watched Formula 1 since I was a child, and it was exciting to see the German battling against the best drivers in the world. Schumacher has always been an idol for me, although I admire everyone who has driven for Ferrari because it’s a goal that not everyone can achieve.”
Nielsen is continuing his adventure in the FIA WEC in the LMGTE Am class, and the 2020 season programme will be announced in the coming weeks. The interview ended, however, with a look to the future.
Q: “What is your dream as an official Ferrari driver?”
A: “My dream is to win big races and make a difference. I have just embarked upon an important stage of my career, so my goal is to grow race after race to a high level. I aim to do so as quickly as possible, thanks to the support of the great manufacturer that is Ferrari.”