Sacha Fenestraz says he is glad that an "unlucky" incident-filled first season in Super Formula has come to a close.
The French-Argentinian concluded his rookie campaign in Japan's premier single-seater series with Kondo Racing last weekend at Fuji Speedway with a trouble-free run to eighth place, for only his third finish of a year plagued by ill fortune.
He scored 13 of his 19 points in the opening round of the year at Motegi, where he qualified second and finished third, before suffering three DNFs in a row - two as a result of first-corner incidents at Okayama and Sugo and then a wheel becoming detached at Autopolis.
Fenestraz rounded out his season with 10th and another retirement at Suzuka, which he blamed on Kamui Kobayashi, and finally eighth at Fuji to conclude the year 13th overall.
"At the finish I don’t know if I was happy or sad!" Fenestraz told Motorsport.com about his Fuji race. "Happy to finish, but of course not so happy about the result.
"To be honest, I was surprised how much I learned about tyre management, how much downforce you lose running behind another car, etc.
"We had a big issue with the engine the whole race, so I was super slow in a straight line. I think I was the slowest in the speed traps. But I’m happy to end the season like this because I’ve been quite unlucky and had issues the whole season."
Sacha Fenestraz, Kondo Racing
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
Fenestraz said he was satisfied to end the year with a perfect record in qualifying against Kondo teammate Kenta Yamashita, but highlighted one-lap pace as a major area of improvement to focus on for the 2021 season.
"Qualifying was terrible for both of us," said Fenestraz. "We had absolutely no grip on new tyres. We have a lot of work to do, we need to push quite a bit the team to progress.
"We started the season well [in qualifying], but towards the end of the season it’s been bad. At least we know what to work on for next season."
Despite a difficult first season in Super Formula, Fenestraz said he was pleased with his first season in general as a factory Toyota driver in Japan, which also included a first season in SUPER GT's GT500 ranks with TOM'S that yielded fourth in the championship.
"It has been a great season," said the 21-year-old. "Super Formula started well at Motegi and then since then I’ve just been unlucky. SUPER GT was up and down but generally good.
"I’ve learned a lot, also how to be a professional driver, which is much different to paying for a drive. I’m happy the year is over because Super Formula has been very tough, but I’m really looking forward next year to putting everything I’ve learned into practice."