"Needed a few days to think" - Sacha Fenestraz admits fault in collisions at Formula E in Portland
Nissan failed to reward itself with many points at the Portland premiere of Formula E. Starting from second place, Sacha Fenestraz drove into his teammate Norman Nato and Rene Rast (McLaren) and had to have his front wing changed twice, which set him far back in the battle for points. Nato had hoped for more in the race, but at least brought home two points for the Japanese team.
As in the expected slipstream battle of Formula E in Portland no one wanted to take the lead, especially in the starting phase, up to six cars went side by side through the first turn. Fenestraz, who had started the race from second position after a strong qualifying session, misjudged the braking point on lap 3 and touched his teammate Nato on the rear. "It was 100 percent my fault," Fenestraz told Corazonformulauno on Instagram. "It was just a minimal contact, but the angle was awkward."
Nato's car bore no damage, but Fenestraz had to pit and have his broken wing replaced shortly after the safety car period. "We were afraid the wing would get under the car and I would lose control." Something similar had happened to ABT Cupra driver Nico Müller. But a top result would have been difficult for Fenestraz to achieve anyway: "I don't think we had the pace to win the race or finish in the top five, because we had another technical problem later on."
The first E-Prix in Portland was a real rollercoaster ??- Nissan NISMO (@NISMO) June 26, 2023
Serious speed in quali, but a race that was carnage from start to finish ??
We go again in Rome ?@Nissan @NissanUSA #NissanFormulaE #FeelElectric #PortlandEPrix pic.twitter.com/1tH5ifIQy8
Adaptive braking system as curious cause of accident
That problem had led to the collision with Rene Rast, because of which Fenestraz damaged his front wing a second time. He said the Nissan braking system normally adjusts to the corners, but in this case it got the corners mixed up. "I braked at the entrance of Turn 10, but the front wheel locked up immediately," Fenestraz describes the accident.
In the end, the 23-year-old finished 15th after a messed-up race. "(It was a) frustrating end to a great week in Portland," he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. "Needed a few days to think about what happened last week. Sometimes mistakes are done and this one was on me. Apologies to the team for my mistake as we had a good opportunity to score some points."
Needed a few days to think about what happened last week. Frustrating end to a great week in Portland. Sometimes mistakes are done and this one was on me. Apologise to the team for my mistake as we had a good opportunity to score some points, we learn from it and we move forward. pic.twitter.com/GBkfkmyLgY- Sacha Fenestraz (@sachafenestraz) June 28, 2023
Nato: "Didn't have the pace for the podium today"
But what stood out positively was the Nissan's once again strong pace on one lap: In qualifying, Fenestraz won Group A and was able to fight his way into the final in the subsequent duel phase. The other Nissan-powered cars showed similar strength, as all three reached the duel stage. Nato was beaten in the semi-final by his teammate, but still started the race from third position. Next to him on the grid in position 4 was Rene Rast.
"We had good pace in qualifying today and I was very happy with the performance of the car on one lap," said Nato, who was not satisfied with the race pace and ninth place, however. "In the race, handling the energy was really difficult, especially when you were in the lead. That led to a constant side-by-side because nobody wanted to be in the lead. We didn't have the pace for the podium today, but considering we started third, our goal was definitely more than P9, even though we're still happy with the points."
"We didn't score as many points as we had hoped," agrees team principal Tommaso Volpe. "But we have to take the positives from it. We have a fast car in qualifying and from tomorrow our focus is on the next race in Rome." Nissan has still two weeks to prepare for the races in the Italian capital which are scheduled for July 14 and 15.