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Where Nissan needs to improve to match Formula E pacesetters

Nissan needs to make steps with both its powertrain efficiency and systems to match benchmark Formula E manufacturers Jaguar and Porsche, says Sacha Fenestraz.

Sacha Fenestraz, Nissan

Jaguar and Porsche, along with respective customer teams Envision Racing and Andretti Autosport, have proven the dominant forces in the 2022/23 season, having won all bar two of the 12 races that have taken place so far.

Andretti’s Jake Dennis leads the drivers’ standings by a single point from Nick Cassidy (Envision) ahead of this weekend’s Rome E-Prix, while works Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein and Jaguar’s Mitch Evans are third and fourth.

Fenestraz meanwhile sits 13th in the standings with best finishes of fourth in Monaco and Jakarta, one place behind McLaren driver Rene Rast, the only racer to score a podium so far this season with a Nissan powertrain.

“Jaguar has been very strong, we can see it with Envision as well,” Fenestraz told Autosport. “Porsche is strong in terms of pure efficiency, they are much faster.

“We saw it in Jakarta. I felt like I was doing the same as them, and then the energy figures come on TV and they tell me I’m 1% down on the Porsche… that’s just pure efficiency.

“Jaguar is also strong on the systems side of things. They are the teams to chase, maybe more Jaguar than Porsche, but Porsche is the strongest PU in terms of efficiency.”

Despite Nissan’s shortcomings over a race distance, Fenestraz has had several strong qualifying performances, earning pole in Cape Town and then only losing a second at Monaco due to a penalty for exceeding the 350kW power limit.

Sacha Fenestraz

Sacha Fenestraz

He also qualified on the front row last time out at Portland, only to lose the chance of a strong result by damaging his front wing after making contact with team-mate Norman Nato early in the race.

“I wasn’t expecting a year like this,” said Fenestraz. “At the beginning of the year, I kept saying that I didn’t want to set any targets. But so far, I’ve surprised myself: the pole in Cape Town, Monaco, the good result in Jakarta. 

“In Cape Town, without the contact with Cassidy, I could have achieved a podium.

“It’s been a bit up and down, which is our weak side. On my side, I am still quite new to managing energy. I am still making mistakes here and there. 

“My race engineer [Johann Aime] is also new to Formula E, so we are learning race by race. We are improving and making steps forward.”

Sacha Fenestraz

Sacha Fenestraz

Fenestraz is contracted to remain at Nissan for the 2023/24 season, and is hoping the marque can translate its strong qualifying form into improved results next term. 

“It’s a championship where everything has to be perfect, you cannot leave anything on the table,” he said. “When 70% of the team members are new, that’s difficult, although we are making fewer and fewer mistakes. 

“Hopefully next year we can start achieving some consistent podium finishes and top-fives.”

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