Although Sacha Fenestraz has just finished his FIA Formula 3 European Championship campaign he’s still got a pretty hectic schedule ahead of him! While the Renault Sport Academy driver is getting ready to race in the Macau Grand Prix (15-18 November), he’s one of the heroes in the new Michel Vaillant strip cartoon book that’s been on sale in bookshops since this morning!
Let’s talk about the most recent news: the fact that you play an important role in the 77th Michel Vaillant book…
“I’m immensely proud to be part of the Michel Vaillant universe. It’s my first appearance in a comic strip, and it’s not just any old strip! Michel Vaillant is an iconic name, which immediately talks to all those who’re interested in motor sport. It’s a great experience to be involved with their team and to support it. I’ve enjoyed it very much and it’s a real honour to carry these legendary colours once again this year.”
Have you had time to read it?
“I’ve already received my copy and I couldn’t stop myself from devouring it! The world of motor sport is very well portrayed and it’s pretty special to see myself appearing in the pages. The story’s very interesting; I wasn’t expecting such a scenario. But I’m not going to say any more. I’ll leave it up to the readers to discover it for themselves to see if reality will emulate fiction in two weeks time!”
In hindsight how do you assess your 2018 season?
“Right from the start I was expecting to live the most difficult year of my career because of the overall level of competitiveness in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Unfortunately, it turned out to be even more difficult than I expected. But I still believe that it’s in tough moments like these that you learn the most; a lot more than last year for example when I won the Formula Renault Eurocup. Despite the setbacks I think I’ve become a better all-round driver. My team-mates, the whole Carlin outfit and I never gave up. We were able to fight back and progress to mix it with the front-runners. Although small mistakes and collisions prevented us from transforming these efforts into results we’re on the right track and we’re all absolutely determined to deliver in Macau!”
Even so you had some good moments this year, didn’t you?
“Yes, there’ve been a lot of positive things too. The Pau weekend went off really well with a victory right at the start of the season. I also clinched two podiums at Silverstone, which gave my confidence a big boost. And finally I won’t forget my first run in a Formula 1 car. It was an unbelievable experience. I’ve dreamed about it all my life and I’ll never forget the sensations I felt that day.”
In ten days you’ll be back in Macau. What are you expecting from this very special weekend?
“The Macau Grand Prix is really something apart. This final fully deserves its title of World Cup because it’s the most important race of the year. The format contributes to this too with two qualifying sessions and then a qualifying race whose classification decides the positions on the grid for the start of the Grand Prix. This doesn’t leave you any margin for error.”
Have you a precise objective this year?
“Like I said last year: one year to learn and one year to win! Perhaps it’s a question of confidence, but I always manage to make the difference on street tracks. With Carlin’s history in Macau and my experience we’ve got a good chance of fighting for victory. I can also count on Callum Ilott in the team. He’s already proved to be quick in Macau and he’s got a bit more experience than me. My aim will be to learn from him, but above all to be in front of him right from the start of practice.”
This year the Hankook tyres seemed to pose problems for several drivers. Will it be the same thing in Macau with the Yokohama rubber?
“In 2017, the Yokohama tyres gave more grip overall with a great peak, a bit like the Michelins I used in Formula Renault. There was a lot of degradation in the race. On the spot, we’ll see if they still have the same characteristics, but I had good feelings with them a year ago.”
What are the biggest challenges of the Guia layout?
“Above all, it’s a long circuit as it measures six kilometres so you have to really go for it! But I adore the thrills you get out of it when the adrenaline kicks in! Among the traps is the mountain section that’s extremely technical with a chicane that you go through flat out on your qualifying laps. If you turn in the slightest bit too late you pay the price immediately and end up in the wall opposite. You go from a motorway on which with slipstreaming you reach the highest speed of the season, 270 km/h and dive into a real funnel.”
How’s your preparation coming along for this iconic event?
“At the moment I’ve been focusing on the physical aspect. I’ve been working nonstop to be absolutely ready to take up the challenge posed by this fast, physical, bumpy circuit. Next week I’m going to begin a new phase on the simulator before fine-tuning the final details with Carlin. Then it’ll be time to fly to Asia.”
Macau and The hidden side of Macau in the shops!
“Vaillant: ruin and prison,” screamed the newspaper headlines!
It was all terribly real for Michel Vaillant who was suspected of murdering his brother. But in jail Michel saw things clearly. He knew he had to reconcile his family after Jean-Pierre’s death, prove his innocence and give the Vaillant clan a future again. After leaving prison he went to Macau to lay the groundwork of this revival despite the determination of Ethan Dasz to destroy it.
The suspense-packed scenario is by Denis Papière and Philippe Graton. Benjamin Benéteau took up the challenge of drawing all the illustrations of the book by himself including the personages, cars and decor. Only Jean Graton achieved this feat at the beginning of his career in his early comic strip books.
Macau and its collector issue The hidden side of Macau enriched with a 24-page dossier and an innovative cover featuring Sacha Fenestraz are now on sale in book shops.