Rookie Fenestraz disappointed but not down after podium near-miss in Cape Town

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Rookie Fenestraz disappointed but not down after podium near-miss in Cape Town

Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz might be in his first full year of Formula E, but that hasn’t stopped him from making headlines when competing against some of motorsport’s finest.

Sacha Fenestraz Pole Position Cape Town Formula E for Nissan 2

After achieving his maiden Julius Baer Pole Position in Cape Town, Fenestraz and Nissan are targeting bigger and better results for the rest of Season 9 - but there’s still lots to learn.

Now the proud owner of the ‘fastest Formula E lap ever’ after averaging a speed of 154.987 km/h during his impressive qualifying lap, Fenestraz saw his podium chances slip away on the last lap after contact with Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy.

Discussing their clash at Turn 7, the Nissan driver labelled it a “racing incident” but said that in his opinion Cassidy - who ultimately finished third - was “a little bit optimistic on the move”.

Sacha Fenestraz Pole Position Cape Town Formula E for Nissan

“He just touched me a little bit on my rear left, and I lost the rear and went into the wall," said Fenestraz. "That was game over for me because I broke my rear right wheel. It was a shame because we were having a great race, and I think the podium opportunity was there.”

However, after his heartbreak in Cape Town and getting trapped in Hyderabad when Jaguar TCS Racing’s Sam Bird hit his teammate, the French-Argentine driver says he’s learnt that these moments can happen in Formula E.

“There's still that bit of disappointment, but there is also that excitement inside me of wanting to get back on track,” Fenestraz adds when discussing how he picks himself and the team up from disappointments.

“Hopefully we can achieve the same thing if we have the pace. I'm really excited for Sao Paulo, because it's going to be the closest race to my home and I have a lot of people coming to see, so that will be quite fun!”

Although Fenestraz got a chance to compete in the final race of the GEN2 era, replacing an injured Antonio Giovinazzi at DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT in Seoul, he says the new era machines are completely different to what he’d previously expected.

“I experienced the GEN2 in Seoul, but I was also a reserve driver with Jaguar from early 2021, so I've been driving a little bit. It's extremely different from what I've experienced before," he said.

“But, it's a good time for me to jump into Formula E because it's kind of a blank sheet of paper for everybody which kind of helped me in some ways. It’s been quite an interesting start of the season and I'm arriving with a really open mind.

“I had to adapt in every area of driving, and it's not that easy. I mean, for me, at least I don't know the other drivers, it took a bit of time, especially at the beginning. When we were developing the GEN3, I was still driving in Japan because I was still racing. So it was like jumping from one car to another.

“Even now, I wouldn't say that I'm driving the car to its 100% because I still don't know certain areas of the car and it's interesting, it's very tricky.”

So what’s there still to learn? Well for Sacha, he’s very honest: “everything”.

“A little bit of everything but I'll definitely say the side of racing. The energy management of things, it's very tricky. It's completely new because I didn't have that before so that's something I'm still having to learn. How to manage your energy, how to spend it, and how to manage your race because the races are actually quite long so just being clever on how you expend your energy.”

However, Fenestraz remains optimistic. He can see the potential there for the Nissan team, especially as some 60-70% of their team were new for Season 9, and with two different drivers behind the wheel, there’s still plenty to understand and improve in the remaining 11 races. The signs, though, are good.