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  • Writer's pictureEllie Mae

Sacha Fenestraz: "My goal is one day to become World Champion"

Sacha Fenestraz first set foot in a kart at a young age with his dad and brother. He rapidly climbed the motorsport ranks, racing in Europe before joining the Renault Sport Academy (now the Alpine Academy), before moving to Japan in 2018 to continue his career there. In 2019, Sacha won the Japanese Formula 3 Championship, capturing the attention of Toyota, who signed him in 2020, making his first dream of becoming a professional racing driver come true.

He spent 2021 and 2022 in Japan and competed in Super Formula and Super GT alongside one another. Sacha became the 2022 Vice Champion in Super Formula and took his first win in Super GT. At the same time, Sacha was involved in the FIA Formula E World Championship, having been Jaguar’s reserve driver in 2021 and making his debut in the series at the 2022 Seoul ePrix with Dragon / Penske Autosport.

Now, Sacha has just completed his debut Formula E season with Nissan. After a successful year, taking Pole and being close to the podium spots on multiple occasions, Sacha reflects on his time in Japan and how it played a vital role in preparing him for racing on a global calendar as well as being on the Formula E grid this season.

Sacha also looks back on how his life has changed since we spoke for the first time in 2020.



 

Spending time as a professional racing driver with Toyota prepared Sacha immensely for his move to Formula E. With engineers depending on him for good race performances and results, racing in Super Formula and Super GT helped him communicate with a larger team in a fast-paced, pressured environment.


“I grew up a lot as a professional driver,” Sacha says. “It’s quite different when you’re coming from lower single seater categories.”


Having lived in Japan since 2019, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when he had to spend time alone, leaving Japan provoked sadness for Sacha. He was leaving behind the place he called home for three years, as well as friends he had made there.


“Japan felt like my second home because my career restarted there,” he says. “It was reborn there because I was so close to stopping racing and I will forever be grateful for Toyota and now, Nissan.


“The reason I would’ve come back to Europe was to race in a world championship like Formula 1 or Formula E, and here we are. I’m very happy with how everything is going.”

 

After his previous Formula E experience with Jaguar as reserve driver and with Dragon, now DS Penske, Sacha knew he had the potential chance of joining the all-electric grid full-time, but he never thought it would unfold so quickly.


“I had a meeting with Nissan in Japan and they were quite keen,” he says. “Everything started growing and going towards the proper consideration of me jumping in the car.”


The call from Nissan came at a monumental moment in Sacha’s career in Super Formula, his father trying to get in touch with him to tell him the news.


“I got the call straight after my first win in Super Formula when I was walking to the press conference,” Sacha says. “The excitement of my first win plus the call from Nissan was emotional and a lot to take in, but I was really happy.”


A Formula E season is very different to what Sacha is used to, with a lot more travelling and hours of simulator work and meetings.


“You don’t drive a lot during the race weekends so all the pre-prep is where a lot of the work is done,” he says. “It’s quite a compact championship so, after races, we go straight back to Paris to the simulator.”


It has always been a dream of Sacha’s to race alongside some of the best racing drivers in the world, and he has ticked that off his bucket list this year with Nissan.


“I’ve enjoyed myself this season,” Sacha says. “I still lack some experience on the race side of things and we’ve had some problems now and then.”



However, there have been some positive moments for Sacha and the team on multiple occasions.


He took his first Pole position in Formula E at the Cape Town ePrix and took the same grid spot in Monaco, however, he lost his P1 race start because of power usage over the regulatory 350kW limit. However, regardless of the penalty, securing Pole in Monaco was Sacha’s best memory of the season.


“I raced there twice in previous categories and won both times with Pole both times,” he says. “Achieving Pole once more in a World Championship is amazing.”


Pole position isn’t the only thing Sacha has achieved in his maiden Formula E season. There have been two occasions - in Monaco (round nine) and Jakarta race 2 (round 11) - where Sacha finished the race in fourth, one spot away from the podium.


Sacha also broke the fastest lap record for Formula E in Monaco during his Semi Final Duel with a time of 1:28.773.


“The podium opportunities were available this season,” Sacha says. “I wasn’t expecting to be in a position like that at the beginning of the year.”


And, Sacha sees himself on the Formula E grid for a few years to come.


“I’m happy here at Nissan,” he says, with a smile. “My goal is one day to become a World Champion.


“That’s a beautiful dream to have and if we can make it happen together with Nissan, that’s even better.”


Sacha will be on the grid with the Nissan Formula E team in 2024 and hopes to continue building their relationship and achieving his goal of winning a World Championship and taking the team to the top - together.

 

In our 2020 interview, Sacha talked about how he came close to leaving racing behind and ending his career on the grid. However, he reflects on that time, and bouncing back from a difficult point in his career, more positively now.


“Not giving up when you’re at your lowest is so important because you don’t know what’s around the corner,” Sacha smiles. “At the moment, I’m achieving two out of my three dreams.


“Hopefully, the third will come at some point soon in my career.”


Image credit: Spacesuit Media / Nissan Formula E Team




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