Brake trouble costs Fenestraz double Fuji podium chance

Sacha Fenestraz has revealed that a brake failure cost him the chance to score a double podium in last weekend’s opening Super Formula weekend at Fuji Speedway.

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Kondo Racing driver Fenestraz finished a strong third behind Ryo Hirakawa and Tomoki Nojiri in Saturday’s opening race, but finished 20th and last of the finishers on Sunday.

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On lap five, immediately after the safety car period, Fenestraz spun at the Turn 6 hairpin while he was running fifth, and suffered another off-track excursion some laps later. 

He then picked up a puncture, forcing him to change tyres before the pit window opened, meaning he had to come in for a second stop late in the race - finally leaving him a lap down.

Fenestraz said he had initially suspected he may have not managed the brakes correctly behind the safety car, but finally a failure was revealed to be the cause of his issues.

“Already at Turn 1 [following the restart] the brake pedal went completely ‘long’," he recalled. "It was pretty scary and I was ready to take avoiding action to not hit the guy in front.

“At A-corner [the braking performance] was getting less and less, and then into the hairpin [Turn 6], there was just nothing. I hit the brake, I nearly hit Kamui [Kobayashi] and then the rear brakes suddenly [engaged]. It was like pulling the handbrake and I couldn’t hold it, so I spun. 

“From there the race was difficult from the back. I was pushing and the brakes weren’t feeling right, at A-corner [Turn 3] I went on the outside kerb and lost the rear. The left-rear tyre blew up, so we had to pit.

“We wanted to stay out just to gain experience, we tried a few different things on the car and we got some good information and data. I think we had the pace for another top three, or at least to fight with [third-place finisher Ritomo] Miyata, so it’s a shame.”


Fenestraz ended a wait of almost two years for a second career Super Formula podium finish in Saturday’s opening race, but he enjoyed an early spell in the lead of the race as he passed Hirakawa on lap 6 of 41, only for Hirakawa to return the favour on lap 14.

The Franco-Argentine driver pitted on lap 21 but found himself undercut by Nojiri and powerless to repass the reigning champion in the closing stages of the race.

Asked by if he felt he had taken too much life from his tyres in the early stages, Fenestraz agreed, putting the situation down to a lack of experience.

“I was over-pushing a little bit,” he admitted. “We have this new rear tyre and we got caught out by the degradation. There was a lot more degradation than I expected. 

“I was pushing at the start to keep up with Ryo, I managed to overtake him, and then I was trying to pit as soon as possible because the tyre didn’t feel right.

“Realistically I still need more experience. In my first season I didn’t do many full races, I had a lot of DNFs, and last year I wasn’t really here, so it was another learning curve for me.”

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