In the wake of his podium finish in the Macau Grand Prix, Sacha Fenestraz headed for Abu Dhabi to continue his learning curve in GP3. It was his first outing on the Yas Marina circuit and the Renault Sport Academy driver accumulated the maximum amount of experience while bringing down the curtain on what has been a character-building season. The Franco-Argentinean is now looking ahead to 2019 and is determined to bounce back as quickly as possible.
THE WEEK-END ROUND UP
Fenestraz used the only free practice session to get to grips with GP3 again while having his first taste of the Yas Marina circuit. In the 45-minute session, the Renault Sport Academy driver covered 18 laps during which he whittled down his times finishing in sixth place in the overall classification.
But he found qualifying a tougher challenge. He quickly moved into the top 10, and then saw his rivals closing the gap before he shod his second set of tyres. After another improvement he set his three best sector times taking the chequered flag in 10th place, but his adversaries found more pace in the dying seconds of the session and pushed him back to the ninth row of the grid.
In searingly hot conditions Sacha fell back to 20th place at the end of the first lap. The FFSA Equipe de France driver didn’t give up, however, and began his fight back by overtaking Joey Mawson fourth time round. Two laps later he got past Jehan Daruvala. His next victims were Diego Menchaca and Devlin DeFrancesco and he went on to finish sixteenth and second best of the Arden Motorsport drivers.
Fenestraz was in 16th place on the grid, but made another difficult start. An accident among the front-runners helped him to come round in fifteenth place at the end of lap 1. After the virtual safety car period to clear the track he continued his comeback by slipping past Jehan Daruvala who quickly snatched the place back. Despite the high temperature, Sacha had few overtaking opportunities in the closing stages of the race and saw the flag in 15th spot.
“I’d have preferred to finish the year with my podium in Macau, but my main target in Abu Dhabi was to gain experience. Even if this didn’t translate into results I continued learning about strategy and the Pirelli tyres. I assimilated a great deal and the weekend got off to a good start in free practice. Unfortunately, it all got much more difficult in qualifying as we never really managed to feel the grip level of the tyres. My two more experienced team-mates also suffered. It’s a pity because I reckon that we could have finished much higher up the grid. The outcome of both races depended on this but once again the aim was to learn as much as possible. I fulfilled that objective this weekend. Now, we’re going to take advantage of the winter break to evaluate our different options and put our 2019 programme in place.”
Free practice: 6th – 1m 57.053s
Qualifying: 18th – 1m 55.985s
Grid position, race 1: 18th
Race 1: 16th
Grid position, race 2: 16th
Race 2: 15th