Nissan has reached an agreement to have Sacha Fenestraz join its squad for the start of Formula E’s Gen3 era in 2023.
The 23-year-old Franco-Argentine currently competes in Super Formula, where he is currently third in the standings in his fourth season on the Japanese racing scene. However, after finishing his current obligations with the Kondo Racing team, he plans to return to European racing.
Fenestraz has won Super Formula races, finished on the podium in Super GT races, and won the 2019 Japanese Formula 3 championship while living in Japan.
His achievements in European junior racing include winning the 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup championship and the 2018 European F3 event in Pau with Carlin.
Fenestraz is not new to Formula E as a result of his three years stint as a reserve driver for Jaguar. He participated in Jaguar’s simulator and track testing, as well as the official rookie test in Marrakesh, Morocco, in March 2020.
The announcement comes after Sebastien Buemi revealed he will be leaving Nissan at the end of the current season. He has been a member of the Nissan team since the start of Formula E in 2014, when it was known as Renault.
He will be introduced soon as Robin Frijns’ replacement at Envision, who is expected to join Abt in the near future.
Nissan’s decision to hire Fenestraz will be viewed as somewhat of a gamble, since the team may be in line for a clean slate of new drivers should Max Guenther compete elsewhere in 2023. It’s thought that the German still has the chance to compete for the squad he joined last summer.
Nissan’s general manager and managing director of motorsport, Tommaso Volpe, was questioned about Fenestraz in London last weekend and spoke candidly about the driver. Volpe would not confirm that Fenestraz had been signed but did say that he has long been a high priority driver in the pool of potential new recruits.
“I’m not going to confirm with you our drivers for next season. But about Sacha, yes he’s definitely a driver of interest,” said Volpe. “He has a very international profile but the most important thing is he has shown at this young age to be very talented already.”
“He won some street races, which is very interesting, and for a brand like Nissan, there is one more box that it ticks – which is he has been racing in Japan.”
“For a brand like Nissan that is an additional reason to be interested compared to other brands.”
“So, I can confirm that in the list of names that we evaluated he is definitely one name of interest for us.”
Following the conclusion of his lone season with Venturi in August 2021, Norman Nato was in talks with Nissan about a potential comeback to Formula E the following season.
It is unknown if the 2016 Berlin E-Prix winner has a deal, but it is understood that such discussions have advanced significantly in recent weeks. Nissan wants a blend of expertise and youth on the team, according to Volpe.
“We will definitely have one experienced driver but we would like to have also a young driver, because we are entering in generation three with a plan to meet a long-term approach,” he added.
“We think that this is the right moment to introduce a young driver, rather than doing it later, then you never know because anything can happen in terms of performance and access to other talents… But definitely season nine for us was an opportunity also to have a young talent.”
Jann Mardenborough has been testing Nissan’s Gen3 test and development vehicle recently, using the new design in both simulator and track testing. Another team driver Stephane Sarrazin, whose responsibilities are expanding, has also tested the vehicle privately.