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Fenestraz won't race in Super Formula during first Formula E season

Sacha Fenestraz will not contest any Super Formula races next year before the end of his first Formula E season, ruling him out of most of the 2023 campaign.

Sacha Fenestraz, KONDO RACING

Sacha Fenestraz, KONDO RACING

Masahide Kamio

After signing a two-year deal to race for Nissan in Formula E, Fenestraz initially expressed hopes of continuing his career racing in Japan in either Super Formula or Super GT when his schedule allowed.

However, Nissan has vetoed his continued participation in Super GT with Toyota, leaving Super Formula as the only viable option, despite the provisional Formula E calendar featuring three clashes with the Japanese single-seater series.

While it was clear from the outset that his Nissan deal would take priority in the event of clashes, Fenestraz has now gone a step further and ruled out participating in Super Formula again at least until after the Formula E season-closing London ePrix at the end of July.

It leaves only the possibility of participating in the final two rounds of the Super Formula season - at Motegi in August and Suzuka in October - should a deal be struck with his current Kondo Racing team for him to appear in those races.

Fenestraz told Autosport: “I hope to be here [in Super Formula] for the second half of the season. But the first half is just too busy and I need to focus on Formula E. That will be the priority over everything else.”

Toyota and Kondo are thought to be targeting signing another international driver to replace Fenestraz alongside Kenta Yamashita, who is expected to stay with the team, for 2023.

 

Super Formula Lights champion Kazuto Kotaka could provide an alternative in case this proves impossible, with the option of bringing back Fenestraz for the final two events of the season if Kotaka fails to impress.

Yamashita admitted that the prospect of losing Fenestraz is a potential cause of concern in terms of maintaining Kondo’s recent strong form.

“Having Sacha as a team-mate has been a great impetus for me,” Yamashita told Autosport. “I don’t know who will be driving next year. I wouldn’t say I’m worried about it, but I just hope they find somebody quick to take his place.”

Fenestraz himself added: “I feel at home here at Kondo, we’ve been working so hard to bring them back up, and it would be sad to see them drop again after all that hard work. I would be happy to help somehow to keep the team up there.”

Fenestraz bows out by sealing second in standings

A dismal run to 16th in Saturday's penultimate race at Suzuka officially marked the end of Fenestraz's faint hopes of beating Tomoki Nojiri to the title.

But the Franco-Argentine driver rebounded with a strong run to fourth in Sunday's finale, passing Ryo Hirakawa - with whom he had been level on points - to secure the runner-up spot in the championship.

Sacha Fenestraz, KONDO RACING, Ryo Hirakawa, carenex TEAM IMPUL

Sacha Fenestraz, KONDO RACING, Ryo Hirakawa, carenex TEAM IMPUL

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

After describing his lack of pace on Saturday as "weird", Fenestraz said a detailed analysis of the #4 Kondo machine that night revealed some fundamental issues that the team was able to rectify.

"We found something on the dampers, the bump rubbers, were completely broken," Fenestraz explained. "And the floor we changed after the crash [at Fuji] was an old one, not effective, and we were losing 70-80kg of downforce at the rear, which is a lot at a track like Suzuka.

"So that clarifies the pace of Saturday, and Sunday was a big turnaround. We were still only P7 in qualifying, so not mega, but the car felt much better."

Although he is certain Suzuka wasn't his last Super Formula race weekend, Fenestraz leaves the series with a single victory and five podiums to his credit in 17 starts, all with Kondo Racing.

"I’ll miss racing here a lot," he said. "The cars are amazing, with a lot of downforce and good tyres, fair racing without much contact, the tracks are great, and so are the Japanese fans.

"But it’s not goodbye, that’s for sure. I'll be back before too long, hopefully."

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