Nissan rises after Formula E software updates, Fenestraz shines in Monaco: "Our best weekend yet"
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Nissan returned to the top positions of Formula E in Monaco after two difficult race weekends in Brazil and Germany. Thanks to some software updates, Sacha Fenestraz initially made it to pole position, which he lost again a little later due to a technical infraction. Nevertheless, he claimed a strong fourth place for Nissan. Norman Nato was unlucky with an accident after also qualifying strongly.
The basis for the improved pace of the Nissan vehicles had been some software updates, which the team has made after the Berlin E-Prix. As team boss Tommaso Volpe told 'The Race', the rookie test that took place after the Tempelhof races in particular gave the team the opportunity to validate the adjustments.
"In terms of pure pace of the car, we have made a big step," Sacha Fenestraz confirmed to 'e-Formula.news'. He already proved this at midday in qualifying: with 300 kW of power in the group stage, the 23-year-old and his teammate Norman Nato were unbeatable. They qualified in 1st and 2nd place in Group A for the knockout phase.
The two Nissan drivers also prevailed in the following quarter-finals and thus met in the semi-finals. It also spoke for the pace of the car that Jake Hughes in McLaren's customer Nissan also reached the semifinals. Here, Fenestraz set a new track record for Formula E in Monaco.
In the final, Fenestraz actually set the faster time than Hughes. However, the Franco-Argentine was subsequently disqualified for a technical infringement. His car had used more than the permitted 350 kW of power. As a result, he lost pole position to his rival. "That wasn't my fault," says Fenestraz. "My job is to drive the car, and that's what I did. I didn't drive off the track or anything like that (like Hughes did in the final). It was a technical error with the software - there was nothing I could have done about it."
.@sachafenestraz now be starting in P2 and @NatoNorman in P3 for the #MonacoEPrix ?- Nissan NISMO (@NISMO) May 6, 2023
It might not be Pole Position but we're still buzzing and super proud of the whole team ❤️@Nissan @nissanfrance #FeelElectric #NissanFormulaE #MonacoEPrix pic.twitter.com/36IqCU8lVv
"Can't keep up with Porsche, Jaguar & DS in the race yet"
Nissan also seems to be in a better position now in terms of race pace. "We could have fought for the podium today, even though we're not quite as strong as Porsche, Jaguar or DS yet," says the 23-year-old. In Monaco, moreover, he says the team made a mistake with its strategy: with a slightly earlier attack on the front, Fenestraz might even have been able to join the fight for the podium positions. "In the end, everyone was virtually driving at full throttle, and then it's almost impossible to overtake," he explains.
With about ten laps to go, Fenestraz says he would have had opportunities to attack Jake Dennis in the Andretti who was ahead of him and finished third in the end. "But at that point I was still fully focused on saving energy. But I'm also still learning my way around the series, and the same goes for some new team members. It feels good to be up front - that's where I want to stay!"
In the end, Fenestraz finished the race in 4th position. His general conclusion for the weekend is thoroughly positive: "We're coming from so far back, and this was our best weekend yet. We should be happy about that."
Nato: "I have lost 7 positions due to Attack Mode"
Norman Nato experienced a similarly good qualifying session on Saturday lunchtime and started the race from 3rd on the grid. However, he struggled even more with strategy in the race than his younger teammate. "We wanted to use the Attack Mode at the same time as Cassidy," he told 'e-Formula.news' after the race. The New Zealander led the race ahead of Nato on lap 9. "He already had a small lead, though, and I then fell further behind than I had planned. I think I lost seven positions there alone," said the Frenchman, slightly contrite.
Nato was fighting for points in the midfield then, but after an incident on lap 22 he had to come into the pits for some repairs considering the wing and the tire. "I don't really know what happened there myself," said the 30-year-old. The scene was also not visible on TV.
"There were cars all around me - just because we always have to lift so early right now to save energy. That makes the whole race pace very slow, and you inevitably catch up with each other at the entrance to the corner." After the unplanned stop, Nato finished the race in 16th position.
Nevertheless, he is looking ahead and has already set the goal for the next races - "to finish in the points with both cars." Nissan will have its next chance to do so in just under four weeks, as Formula E will then contest the Jakarta E-Prix.