After signing a two-year contract to race for Nissan in FE, Fenestrac initially expressed his hope to continue his racing career in Japan in either Super Formula or SUPER GT, his schedule permitting.
However, Nissan has vetoed his continued participation in SUPER GT with Toyota, leaving Super Formula as the only viable option, despite an interim FE calendar featuring three clashes with the Japanese single-seater series.
Although it was clear from the outset that his deal with Nissan would take precedence in the event of a collision, Fenestrac went further and ruled out competing in Super Formula again until at least the end of the FE season at the London ePrix at the end of July.
That leaves him with only the final two rounds of the Super Formula season – Matega in August and Suzuka in October – if a deal is struck with his current team Kondo Racing for him to compete in those races.
Fenestraz told Motorsport.com: “I hope to be here [in Super Formula] for the second half of the season. But the first half is too intense and I need to focus on Formula E. That will be the priority over everything else.”
Toyota and Kondo are believed to be planning to sign another international driver to replace Fenestraz, along with Kenta Yamashita, who is expected to remain with the team for 2023.
Super Formula Lights champion Kazuto Kotaka could provide an alternative should that prove impossible an opportunity to bring Fenestraz back for the final two events of the season if Kotaka fails to impress.
Yamashita admitted the prospect of losing Fenestraz is a potential cause for concern in terms of maintaining Kondo’s recent strong form.
“Having Sasha as a teammate was a big boost for me,” Yamashita told Motorsport.com. “I don’t know who will be driving next year. I wouldn’t say it bothers me, but I just hope they find someone to take his place soon.”
Fenestraz himself added: “I feel at home here at Kondo, we’ve worked so hard to get them back and it would be sad to see them go down again after all that hard work. I would be happy to somehow help keep the team.”
Fenestrac refused, taking 2nd place in the standings
A dismal run to 16th in Saturday’s penultimate race at Suzuka officially spelled the end of Fenestraz’s faint hopes of beating Tomoki Nojiri for the title.
But the Franco-Argentine rider recovered with a strong run to finish fourth in Sunday’s final, ahead of Ryo Hirakawa, with whom he was level on points, for second in the championship.
Sasha Fenestrac, KONDO RACING, Ryo Hirakawa, carenex TEAM IMPUL
Photo: Masahide Kamio
After describing his lack of pace on Saturday as “weird,” Fenestraz said a detailed analysis of Kondo’s No. 4 car that night revealed some fundamental issues that the team was able to correct.
“We found something on the shock absorbers, the rubber tires were completely broken,” explained Fenestraz. “And we changed the floor after the accident [at Fuji] was old, inefficient, and we were losing 70-80kg of downforce at the rear, which is a lot at a track like Suzuka.
“So that clears up the pace of Saturday and Sunday was a big turnaround. We were still only P7 in qualifying, so not mega, but the car felt a lot better.”
Although he is confident that Suzuka was not his last Super Formula race weekend, Fenestraz leaves the streak with one win and five podiums in 17 starts, all with Kondo Racing.
“I’m going to really miss racing here,” he said. “The cars are great, with great downforce and good tyres, fair racing without much contact, the tracks are great and the Japanese fans are too.
“But it’s not goodbye, that’s for sure. Hopefully I’ll be back too soon.”