Fenestraz shouldn't have listened to "terrible" strategy call

Sacha Fenestraz has expressed his frustration with what he labelled a “terrible” strategy that limited him to sixth place in Sunday’s Motegi Super Formula race.

Sacha Fenestraz, KONDO RACING

Kondo Racing driver Fenestraz appeared well-set to challenge for victory after qualifying second behind Toshiki Oyu, but his race got off to a bad start as he slipped behind championship leader Tomoki Nojiri through the opening corners.

Settling into third place, Fenestraz waited until lap 16 of 37 to make his mandatory tyre change, following Oyu into the pits and remaining behind the Japanese driver.

But Oyu’s lack of pace meant Fenestraz was stuck and powerless to prevent himself from being undercut by the early-stopping cars of Yuhi Sekiguchi and Tadasuke Makino, and from being overcut by Ryo Hirakawa, who left his stop until lap 30.

Looking back on his race, Fenestraz referenced May’s Autopolis race - where he ignored Kondo’s instruction to pit and went on to finish runner-up to Hirakawa - and made clear his annoyance that the team fell into the same trap for a second time.

“The strategy was terrible, just not good enough,” Fenestraz told Motorsport.com. “We lost the race there. 

“It was the same situation as Autopolis, where the team called me in but I didn’t listen to them, stayed out and finished well. Today I should have done the same. 

“They called me in, and I trusted that they had learned their lesson from Autopolis. But it was actually the same mistake. This time I followed what they said, and it was wrong. 

“Hirakawa did today what we did in Autopolis, which is stay out when the cars ahead come in, get a clear track and push. That’s what we should have done. 

“But you have to trust that the team is not going to make the same mistake twice.”

Sacha Fenestraz, KONDO RACING

Sacha Fenestraz, KONDO RACING

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Fenestraz added that he knew his podium chances were over when he realised his team had called him on the same lap as Oyu, who was struggling for race pace.

“Before the race, the only thing I asked the team is, ‘when we pit make sure I don’t have traffic’, and exactly the opposite happened,” he continued. “I’m not happy about it. 

“We definitely had the pace for P2 or at least P3 as Nojiri didn’t seem to be super-fast. But when I was stuck behind Oyu, I knew we were finished. 

“It was bad for the championship as well, if we had finished P2 we would have got closer, but now it’s getting away from us. It’s not over, but it’s a shame.”

Fenestraz will head into the Suzuka double-header finale 32 points behind Nojiri with only 46 left up for grabs across the two races.

Read Also:

Related video

Previous article Motegi Super Formula: Sekiguchi beats Hirakawa in thrilling duel
Next article How Impul duo produced a Super Formula battle for the ages