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Krumm brought in to assist Fenestraz in Super Formula

Japanese racing veteran Michael Krumm has been recruited by Kondo Racing's Super Formula operation in order to help Sacha Fenestraz communicate more smoothly with the team.

Michael Krumm

Krumm, who finished runner-up in what was then known as Formula Nippon in 2000 and is a two-time champion in JGTC (now SUPER GT), will act as a bridge between Franco-Argentine driver Fenestraz and the Japanese engineering staff at Kondo, none of whom speak fluent English.

As well as assisting with communication in the garage, Krumm will also handle radio communications with Fenestraz, who is unable to speak directly to race engineer Takuji Murata from the cockpit because of the language barrier.

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Having missed out on the chance to join his current SUPER GT team TOM'S in Super Formula for this year, Fenestraz said that he requested help from Toyota to improve his situation at Kondo, and that Krumm's presence is already making a difference in this week's Suzuka pre-season test.

"It's helping a lot, it’s easier for me to say what I want to improve [in English]," Fenestraz told Motorsport.com. "I made it clear to Toyota that I needed help and that it’s good for them also if I’m fighting at the front.

"I think Michael is the only guy who can help on this. He’s been here a long time, he speaks very good Japanese and English. I can speak freely now. Before it was broken Japanese and trying to make myself understood, but now I can be completely open and he can translate."

 

Krumm has remained a regular fixture in the SUPER GT paddock after his long tenure as a GT500 driver came to an end in 2015 as an executive advisor to Nissan - the brand with which he has spent the bulk of his career.

His first contact with Fenestraz came when the erstwhile Renault junior driver moved to Japan in 2019 to contest All-Japan Formula 3 and won that year's title before joining the Toyota stable the following year.

"When it comes to driving these super-fast cars, with laptimes close to F1, all your attention needs to be on what you’re doing at the wheel," Krumm told Motorsport.com.

"Even though his Japanese is improving a lot and he can communicate with the engineers, it causes a lot of extra friction and stress for him. That's the reason why I offered my help.

"We worked together today [Monday] for the first time, and Sacha can now freely express himself in English about what he feels in the car and what is missing. I can communicate that to the engineers and we can together find a solution.

"I think it gives him more opportunity to concentrate properly on the job, rather than on the language barrier. Off-track it’s not such a big issue, but when he is driving he needs someone who he can speak to in English."

Sacha Fenestraz, KONDO RACING

Sacha Fenestraz, KONDO RACING

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Krumm says he is optimistic that Fenestraz being present from the start of the campaign can result in Kondo Racing recovering from a disastrous 2021 campaign in which the team slumped to ninth in the teams' standings.

"Sacha doing just two races last year is a whole lot of missed experience, so we have to play catch-up at the moment," said Krumm. "But he has been working hard off-track, I can see his focus and motivation is extremely high. That gives me a positive outlook for this season, and hopefully we can surprise.

"Last year was tough for Kondo Racing but with Sacha being here right from the beginning of the season, I believe that will make a big difference and we can have a big turnaround."

Fenestraz concluded his first day of working with Krumm at Suzuka fourth-fastest, a little over two tenths behind pacesetter Sho Tsuboi.

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