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Quali-Flying, Podiums, and A Home Race away from home — Sacha Fenestraz is Excited as he Looks Ahead to 2024

Conducted and Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Tarun Suresh


Image Credits - Simon Galloway

The 2023 Formula E season proved fruitful for the series — a successful start to the much-anticipated Gen3 era playing host to an exciting championship battle, with several new and returning names featuring on the grid too. 


Records of various magnitudes were broken — be it on the track or off it. Or even indoors. A record audience tuned in to season nine; they witnessed overtake after overtake, sometimes even over 400 in the same race — as was the case for the Portland E Prix. Fresh performance records were set during the season, and one of the record-setters was Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz. 


The French-Argentine racer made his full-time Formula E debut at Mexico City this year and certainly impressed right from the outset. Qualifying was the 24-year old’s forte, as he took his Nissan to lofty positions on the grid regularly in 2023. 


The Nissan driver had a best finish of fourth at Monaco and Portland and would count himself unlucky on several occasions, losing points due to issues beyond his control during the season. Fenestraz would be looking to bring home a mountain of points in 2024 as he eyes up a maiden visit to the Formula E podium too. 


Fenestraz filled in for the injured Giovinazzi at the Seoul E Prix; Image Credits - Wiebke Langebeck / Spacesuit Media

Fenestraz is one of many drivers to have sampled the Gen2 machinery before stepping into its successor in 2023, and the Nissan racer believes it is the new energy regeneration system in the front wheels of the car is the most noticeable difference in the new car. 


“It was a bit weird, the way we used the brakes, as it was quite different from the Gen2 car,” he remarks, looking back at this new addition changing the way he braked into a corner in the Gen3 car. This change was most visible during the race, he says — as drivers focused on conserving and regenerating energy as they braked into a corner. 


He also expresses how the switch from Michelin to Hankook tyres was a massive change for the series: “I was quite surprised by the difference,” he remarks, explaining the change in the stiffness of the tyre, the contact with the ground, and other aspects surrounding the new tyres. 


Sacha remarks on the Gen3 car being trickier to drive; this also stems from how the new Hankook tyres behaved. “They gave us a more powerful car, with 350 kW (of power), a lighter car, and the tyres having lesser grip. The car is moving a lot, with the less grip, so you’re constantly fighting the car,” he says, highlighting the challenges posed by the new Gen3 car on the Hankook boots. 


“The biggest changes are in the race, where you have to be very clean on how you drive the car,” Sacha remarks, speaking of balancing the increased power output and the grip of the Hankook tyres and minimising errors. 


Fenestraz shattered records on his way to pole at Cape Town; Image Credits - Sam Bagnall

Qualifying has been Fenestraz’s strong point in 2023, and the French-Argentine racer also set records in qualifying in 2023, most notably at Cape Town, when he set the fastest-ever lap in the history of the series, before setting the fastest-ever qualifying lap at Monaco in May. Fenestraz thanks the interviewer for the nice words about his records, and believes it boils down to confidence when he is out on the track. 


He also says it's easier to drive to the limit in qualifying than in the races and liked driving in crunch situations, the ideal qualifying scenarios. “I like driving under pressure,” he remarks. The team cheering in the pits is also a motivator for Fenestraz to go all out in qualifying. “When you go through duels, you have one lap, there is huge pressure, and you have the whole team cheering. That is (sort of) good pressure,” he says, looking back at some fond memories of Season Nine. 


Fenestraz’s sole pole position of the season came at the frighteningly fast Cape Town street circuit, while he also scored pole at Monaco before losing the honour due to qualifying infringements. 


The Nissan racer is a big fan of street circuits, relishing the pressure and the proximity to the barriers. “It’s just the extra pressure, no room for mistakes, you have the barriers right there, you have to push the car to its limits, as close to the wall, to gain the advantage on the track,” he says. Fenestraz also likens the challenge posed by street circuits to positive pressure and thrives under this pressure. 


Fenestraz is a big fan of street circuits; Image Credits - Simon Galloway

Formula E goes to new venues every season, and season ten is no different, as the electric racing series ventures into Japan, the famous Misano circuit, as well as the Shanghai International Circuit, while a new layout at Berlin will also play host to the annual Berlin E Prix event. 


Adapting to a new track layout can be a challenge, and Fenestraz relies on simulators and track walks to understand the new tracks. “We do a lot of simulator (work), and it is very important to train, to get to know the track,” he says. The 24-year old also does a lot of work mentally to keep himself in the right headspace for the event. 


In addition, the Tokyo E Prix will be Nissan’s first home race, and Fenestraz is upbeat about heading to the Land of the Rising Sun and is looking forward to the race weekend. “I’m really looking forward to Tokyo, of course, it’s also our (Nissan’s) first home race, and my second or third home race,” he says, gleefully, having lived in the country for three years, when he was racing in Super Formula. 


The Tokyo E Prix will be Nissan’s first home race, and a “home” race for Fenestraz too; Image Credits - Formula E on X

Street circuits have etched themselves into Formula E’s DNA, and it was a change for the Formula E caravan to visit a permanent road course in season nine — the Portland International Raceway. The chaotic race witnessed non-stop overtaking action and left everyone wondering if Formula E should visit permanent circuits more often. 


Fenestraz embraces his love for street circuits and wishes for the series to stay on the street tracks. “In terms of safety, sometimes, we have to go to permanent tracks, but in my hope, I wish we can stay more on street circuits,” he says, also citing the accessibility of the tracks to the fans as an added advantage. 


Looking back at his debut Formula E season, Fenestraz calls it a very positive outing. “Good qualifying, good races, we were running close to the podium on many occasions,” he says, recollecting the highs of his season. “If you had told me a year ago (that I would have pole positions, lead races) I wouldn’t have believed you,” he jokes. 


They say that the first impression is the best impression, and Fenestraz certainly created a good impression right from the first qualifying session of the year at Mexico City. The 24-year old believes it could have gone even better. “If I hadn’t made a mistake in the duels, I could have made it to the semi-finals,” he remarks. 


Fenestraz will be eyeing more moments of greatness going into 2024; Image Credits - Sam Bagnall

Apart from the team’s home race, the French-Argentine racer is looking forward to putting one year of experience under his belt to great effect in 2024. “I’ve learnt a lot from my first season in Formula E, I’ve worked a lot with the team,” he says, having done plenty of simulator sessions to iron out his weaknesses. The youngster eyes a maiden visit to the Formula E podium, apart from scoring heaps of points in his sophomore Formula E season. 


Divebomb would like to thank Sacha Fenestraz for taking the time to do this insightful interview, and wishes him all the best for his second season of Formula E, and will be rooting for the Nissan racer to net his maiden podium finish in the series. 



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