This weekend Sacha Fenestraz was racing in the final round of the 2018 FIA Formula 3 European Championship on the Hockenheim circuit. Despite showing a promising turn of speed that bagged him three top-10 placings in qualifying, two incidents caused his retirement on the first lap in two races. In the only event in which he finished the Renault Sport Academy driver scored his eighth podium finish in the rookie category.
THE WEEK-END ROUND UP
In the morning sessions, Fenestraz was on the pace with eighth place in the first free practice only 0.04s outside the top 5. The Franco-Argentinean improved and lowered his time in the second session.
The Renault Sport Academy driver was among the first drivers to take to the track in the warmer conditions that prevailed in the first qualifying session. After a short run with two flying laps to find his marks he set the provisional fastest time as soon as he went out again, but he was caught by his rivals in the final sprint and had to make do with the tenth-quickest lap.
In the early evening Q2 followed the same format and Fenestraz led the field after the first flying laps. In his second run his two attempts were separated by only 0.05s. Even though his tyres went off preventing him from going even faster he clinched seventh place on the grid for the last two races.
When the first race began Sacha held onto tenth and he took advantage of the slightest opportunity and passed three cars in Turn 8! He moved up to fifth place before the safety car was deployed and was then caught out on the restart. In the hairpin he tried to regain the places he’d lost but the robust defence of his rival led to a contact and another driver sneaked past to overtake them both. Sacha crossed the finishing line in seventh place and third in the rookie category.
Boosted by his promising start to the weekend’s racing, the FFSA Equipe de France driver was brimming with confidence for the second heat. But it all ended after only a few seconds. Sacha on the left was the collateral victim of a driver who pulled over on two cars as they funnelled into the first corner. The black and yellow single-seater’s balance was destabilised between the end of the kerbs and the lawn on the outside of the track and it became uncontrollable finishing its race in the tyre wall.
Sacha started in seventh place on the grid in the final race of the season. He made an excellent start and gained a place in the first corner and immediately piled the pressure on the drivers in front of him. But he was again caught out by a collision just in front of him in the hairpin. Although the Carlin driver managed to limp back to the pits without his front wing he had no choice but to retire as the steering arm had been damaged in the incident.
“This weekend was a kind of mirror image of the season – difficult! I’m convinced that we had the potential to shine. Even if we were less competitive than we hoped at the start of the championship the team did a great job by giving me a car that enabled me to fight at the front at Hockenheim. After the first race I felt even more confident for the next two, but I didn’t manage to cover a lap! First of all, I was pushed off the track and I was just a passenger. Then a driver in front of me tipped the car in front of him into a spin before slamming on his brakes when I was glued to his diffuser and I couldn’t do anything to avoid him. It’s very frustrating as the car was really quick.”
Free practice 1: 8th – 1m 32.980sec
Free practice 2: 13th – 1m 32.614sec
Qualifying 1: 10th – 1m 32.598sec
Grid position Race 1: 10th
Race 1: 7th
Qualifying 2: 7th – 1m 32.636sec
Grid position Race 2: 7th
Race 2: retired
Qualifiying 3: 7th – 1m 32.68sec
Grille de départ Race 3 : 7th
Race 3 : retired
1. Schumacher – 365 points
2. Ticktum – 306 points
3. Shwartzman – 294 points
4. Vips – 283 points
11. Fenestraz – 121 points
1. Shvartzman – 491,5 points
2. Vips – 430 points
3. Armstrong – 361 points
4. Ahmed – 304,5 points
5. Fenestraz – 277 points