Sacha Fenestraz went to Austria to race in the second-last round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Despite a potential that gave him hope that he would add to his points tally and break back into the top 10 in the overall classification, the Renault Sport Academy driver didn’t have much success and had to be content with increasing his score in the rookies’ classification by eight points.
THE WEEK-END ROUND UP
On Friday Fenestraz used the two free practice sessions to place himself in the front end of the field. The Franco-Argentinean progressively improved his times before doing in-depth work that enabled him to close the gap to the leaders.
However, the first qualifying session was a hotly-disputed one. At one moment Sacha was among the front-runners, but finally he had to make do with 13th place even though he was only four-hundredths-of-a-second outside the top 10 and less than two-tenths off the top 5.
Rain began to fall on the Austrian circuit. In these conditions Fenestraz suffered from wheelspin at the start and fell back to 15th. The Renault Sport Academy driver fought back and gained four places in the next three laps before the track began to dry out. He quickly closed the gap to the leaders in the championship, but was unable to find an opening and finished just outside the points.
In the afternoon there were only a few damp spots on the circuit when the second qualifying session began. After sizing up the situation Sacha began to push and like his team-mates opted for a long run to set a time. This out-of-sync strategy didn’t fit in with those of their rivals and he clinched seventh place on the grid for the second race in the dying minutes.
In the morning the FFSA Equipe de France driver made a demon start as soon as the lights went out and gained a place. The race was marked by two safety car deployments, and the second one allowed Ralf Aron to catch out Fenestraz when the restart was given. He then got involved in a scrap with Daniel Ticktum and Jehan Daruvala, but all three made contact two laps from the finish and their race ended in retirement.
Despite Sacha’s mechanics’ efforts to repair his damaged car in time it suffered a differential problem on the pregrid. But the team didn’t give up and the reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion was finally able to start the race. Although he gained two places on the first lap he had to retire when a suspension arm broke at half distance.
“It was a difficult weekend even if we put on a good performance in the second race. We began the weekend with a lot of work to do both on my driving and on the car. I didn’t manage to make as much progress as I wanted to in Q1 and I made my worst start of the year on a tricky, wet track. I managed to up the pace in Q2 even if when you string the perfect lap of all the drivers in the team, we’re still a bit slower than the leaders. We were also quicker in the race and I was able to fight for big points. Unfortunately, I didn’t see Jehan beside Ticktum and our battle ended in a collision. The last race was very difficult. The differential was unlocked on the pregrid. I lacked top speed and suffered a lot of oversteer before a suspension arm broke. The team’s efforts between the two races weren’t rewarded and all we want to do now is to turn the page and finish on a high note at Hockenheim.”
Free practice 1: 11th – 1m 24.383sec
Free practice 2: 9th – 1m 24.002sec
Qualifying 1: 13th – 1m 24.293sec
Grid position race 1: 12th
Race 1: 11th
Qualifying 2: 7th – 1m 23.592sec
Grid position race 2: 7th
Race 2: 16th
Qualifying 3: 11th – 1m 23.806sec
Grid position race 3: 11th
Race 3: retired
- Schumacher – 329 points
- Ticktum – 280 points
- Armstrong – 260 points
- Vips – 242 points
- Fenestraz – 115 points
- Shvartzman – 423,5 points
- Vips – 375 points
- Armstrong – 361 points
- Ahmed – 279,5 points
- Fenestraz – 262 points