Former Renault Formula 1 protege Sacha Fenestraz claimed victory in his maiden All-Japan Formula 3 race at Suzuka on Sunday.
Fenestraz, who finished 11th in European F3 last season and subsequently lost his Renault backing, switched to Japanese F3 over the winter after signing a deal with B-Max by Motopark.
While the French driver had no answer to 2018 runner-up Ritomo Miyata’s pace in qualifying as he lapped over half a second slower in second, he passed his TOM’S rival at the race start to sprint into the lead.
Although Fenestraz could never shake off Miyata, with the latter upping the ante in the second half of the race, the ex-Renault junior did enough to hold on to victory by 0.576s.
Fenestraz’s B-Max teammate Enaam Ahmed, also moving across from European F3, picked up the final spot on the podium after passing TOM’S driver Kazuko Kotaka around the outside of Turn 1 on the penultimate lap.
Fenestraz again qualified on the front row for the second race of the weekend, narrowing the gap to pole-sitter Miyata to just over four tenths.
Miyata held on to the position at the start this time, with Fenestraz also maintaining second on the opening lap.
A safety car was soon deployed after a circuit vehicle, that was positioned at the back of the grid, dropped oil on track at Turn 1.
The SC pulled in at the end of lap 5, at which point Fenestraz rapidly closed in on Miyata heading into the final chicane.
The two made light contact, with Fenestraz’s front wing sustaining damage to the point that he had to head straight into the pits.
With the Frenchman out of contention, Miyata cruised to victory, with Ahmed and Kotaka finishing second and third respectively.
Fenestraz was classified a lap down in 14th and slipped to third in the drivers’ standings, two points behind Ahmed. Miyata leads after the first round with 21 points to his name.
Sacha Fenestraz, B-MAX Racing with Motopark
Photo by: Tomohiro Yoshita
Ahmed gets Japanese F3 reprieve with B-Max/Motopark
New EF Open car designed with ‘traditional’ F3 in mind
Fenestraz wins on Japanese F3 debut
- Formula 1