Sacha Fenestraz reminded his rivals that he is still a force to be reckoned with as he fought at the front on the Silverstone circuit (England). The Renault Sport Academy driver enjoyed a very successful restart to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship with a pole position, two podium finishes and had his best weekend yet in terms of points scored.
THE WEEK-END ROUND UP
At 09:00 in the morning, Sacha got behind the wheel ready to take to the famous English track for the two 40-minute free practice sessions. Even though the circuit had been resurfaced recently he quickly found his marks clinching second place in both sessions and setting the benchmark times for his team and for the rookie category.
In the early afternoon, the Carlin Dallara F317s were the first to go out as the British team opted for two new sets of tyres in Q1. Their strategy paid off and four minutes from the chequered flag, Fenestraz went to the top of the time sheets and improved next time round scoring his second pole position in the category in 1m 50.571sec.
Q2 demanded an even more strategic approach as he had to tackle it with one set of new tyres fewer than his rivals. The outcome was decided in the closing minutes and Sacha dialled in two quick, consistent laps, good enough to give him sixth and third places on the grids for races 2 and 3.
Fenestraz was on pole and made no mistakes when the lights went out. The Equipe de France FFSA driver opened up a gap at first, but he then had to cope with heavy degradation on his rear tyres and the pressure of Dan Ticktum who was glued to his gearbox. Although he put up stern resistance, his rival found an opening at Stowe four laps from the finish but Sacha nonetheless sealed his first podium finish since Pau and his third victory of the season in the rookie category.
He was sixth on the grid in the afternoon race and fell back two places after being hemmed in in the first corner. He spent a long time alone in eighth spot and did not gain another place until lap 16. At the very end of the heat, another driver caught him by surprise on the outside at Stowe, but this move was judged illegal by the stewards and he reclaimed his seventh place, scoring another top-5 finish in the rookie category.
The third race began under very threatening skies. Sacha made an aggressive start to the race gaining a place in the first corner and then attacked Juri Vips. But the leader wasn’t having any and had a breather when the safety car was deployed. On the restart Fenestraz latched on to him like his shadow before having to nurse his tyres with a view to mounting an attack in the closing laps. In the final 10 minutes he made a late charge to try and catch the leader, but Vips fought off the Renault Sport Academy driver’s attacks so he had to settle for another podium finish.
“It’s been a positive weekend and I’m very happy to be back on the podium on Carlin’s and the Renault Sport Academy’s home turf! The team and I have done a lot of work to get to the bottom of our problems in qualifying and to find solutions to them. Our efforts bore fruit and that encourages me to work even harder to stay in the fight at the front. I had a few regrets about the first race, but I think that Ticktum would have overtaken me anyway as the Motopark cars were just a tad quicker. On Sunday I had an opportunity to take the lead in the sixth corner, but I couldn’t make it stick. I knew that it would be more difficult afterwards, and even if I was able to catch my rival you lose so much downforce when you get close that you can only count on the driver making a mistake to be able to pass. It’s a pity, but you have to put these results into perspective. We’ve made a big step forward and now we must keep our heads down and work hard to remain among the front-runners.”
Free practice 1: 2nd – 1m 51.712sec
Free practice 2: 2nd – 1m 51.119sec
Qualifying 1: 1st – 1m 50.571sec
Grid position race 1: 1st
Race 1: 2nd
Qualifying 2: 6th – 1m 50.623sec
Grid position race 2: 6th
Race 2: 7th
Qualifying 3: 3rd – 1m 50.671sec
Grid position race 3: 3rd
Race 3: 2nd
1. Ticktum – 190 points
2. Armstrong – 172 points
3. Vips – 157 points
4. Ahmed – 145 points
11. Fenestraz – 103 points
1. Vips – 252 points
2. Shvartzman – 232.5 points
3. Armstrong – 219 points
4. Ahmed – 214.5 points
5. Fenestraz – 191 points