A frustrating weekend for Sacha

June 2018
Sacha Fenestraz
Sacha Fenestraz discovered a new city circuit on arriving at the Norisring in Germany, which hosted the third round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. On this spectacular but tricky layout, the Renault Sport Academy driver was on the pace and scored precious points in the championship chase.

Sacha took full advantage of the free practice sessions run under threatening skies to find his marks on what was a totally new circuit for him. While racking up the laps he quickly moved up among the leaders and set two top-10 times, which boded well for the rest of the weekend.  

Before the first qualifying session a heavy shower hit Nuremberg. Fenestraz was in the second group and knew that the times would improve as the laps were reeled off. However, his fastest lap only rewarded him with sixth place even though he was only two-tenths-of-a-second off pole.

On Saturday the track had dried out and he made a perfect start in the first race. He was hot on the heels of the top 5 when he was hit by another driver after only seven corners.  

In the afternoon, the young Frenchman was hoping to get his weekend back on track in the best possible style, but the second qualifying session didn’t live up to his expectations. Although he was among the front-runners at the start of the session he was unable to find a clear lap when it mattered. So he had to make do with the seventh row for the two heats on Sunday.

The race started just as the sun began to shine on Nuremberg and Fenestraz made a great getaway gaining two places. But his progress came to an abrupt halt almost immediately as the red flag was hung out because of an accident. On the restart the Equipe de France FFSA driver focused on moving up into the top 10 and pursued his climb up the time sheets. After the finish he was classified eighth thanks to a penalty handed to a rival giving him his fourth podium finish among the rookies.  

In the third and last heat of the weekend, Sacha avoided the traps of the first lap and moved up from 13th to 10th place. After more than 10 minutes behind the safety car the race was suspended to have the track cleared. When it began again he got up into ninth place and the race was again neutralised after only one more lap. His aim in the 12 minutes remaining was to bag big points, but he was harpooned in the hairpin and had to retire on the spot.

“Thanks to our productive and positive practice sessions we felt pretty confident about qualifying, but a storm reshuffled the cards before the session. As the track was drying I knew that the last lap would prove crucial. The gaps were tiny leaving no room for error in Q1 and Q2. The races were more difficult than I expected. As the brakes are subjected to enormous stress on this circuit, it’s difficult to gain any advantage under braking. And on two occasions a driver in my blind spot pulled over on top of me to try and catch me out. Although there was nothing I could do to avoid them at least I managed to clinch a few points and score a podium in the rookie category. At the forthcoming events I’m going to really concentrate on improving my performance in qualifying. It’s the key to good races in this championship.”

NEXT MEETING: ZANDVOORT (13-15 JULY)In three weeks, Sacha Fenestraz will race in the fourth round of the season and will have his first taste of the Zandvoort circuit laid out in the dunes. It really separates the men from the boys in Formula 3 as it’s an old-style track measuring 4.307km, offers several challenges and leaves no room for error as it lacks large run-off areas! “We tested there this winter and it’s probably one of the most difficult tracks on the calendar. But the Carlin team has a lot of data on this circuit and I intend to make full use of them to get back among the front-runners.”