After a thrilling weekend – and sometimes a few troubling similarities with the scenario in Macau, the new Michel Vaillant comic strip book – Sacha Fenestraz finished third in the 65th Macau Grand Prix. Thanks to this result, the Franco-Argentinean concluded his Formula 3 campaign by clinching a place in the world top 3 and was the Carlin team’s highest-placed finisher.
On Saturday, Fenestraz was in third place on the grid for the qualifying race. He was on the outside in the first corner and lost a position, but displayed the full range of his skills as he fought back and snatched third again on the inside in San Francisco.
He was firmly installed in third spot and pulling away from his rivals until the safety car was deployed on the third lap as there was a dog on the track in front of the first three! Two laps later the race restarted. The Renault Sport Academy protégé was caught out by another driver who took advantage of his slipstream to draft past in the second corner. Sacha pulled out to fight back on the run down to Lisboa, but didn’t push too hard following the advice given by Michel Vaillant in Macau to the letter!
In the second part of the race he nursed his tyres and despite saving them he continued to show his competitiveness by staying in contact with the leaders, while the rivals of the front four, who were setting a searing pace, fell out of contention one by one. The Vaillante-Carlin easily sealed fourth place at the finish.
On Sunday afternoon, Sacha lined up on row 2 of the grid. When the lights went out he shot past his Carlin team-mate, Callum Illot, and then demonstrated all his bravura as he nearly kissed the guardrail at 270 kph on his way to second place just before the first neutralisation.
The safety car pulled off at the end of lap 3. Fenestraz came under threat from Joel Eriksson and braked at the last second to stay ahead, but the restarted race didn’t last long being red-flagged after Sophia Florsch’s terrible accident.
After more than an hour’s wait in the torpor of Macau the Grand Prix got under way again for the last 10 laps of the fifteen originally scheduled. While the Equipe de France FFSA driver had to cede a place when the pack was unleashed, the Vaillante colours remained in the mix and left their pursuers no hope of a podium.
Sacha saw the flag in third place in the FIA Formula 3 World Cup becoming the first driver racing under a French licence to appear on the Macau Grand Prix podium since 2009!
Sacha Fenestraz : “A year ago I came to Macau intending to learn and be on the podium this year. So I’ve done the job! I made a good start and moved up from fourth to second place. It was important as the first braking phase is the most crucial and it’s even more so here in Macau. Then I had to cope with the long interruption and the ensuing fall in adrenaline. I think I got the best result possible with our package. Ticktum and Motopark were a cut above us. Even though I had four new tyres they were incredibly quick in the straights and Eriksson took advantage of this on the restart. I’d like to congratulate them. I also hope to see Sophia again and all the people involved in the accident as soon as possible at the circuits. Although I’m still pondering my options for next season I’m counting on coming back to Macau. I really want to win here!”