Monday, May 27, 2024

Norman Nato: “Our Target was Definitely Higher than Ninth”

Norman Nato was left with mixed emotions after finishing ninth last weekend at the inaugural Portland E-Prix, with the Nissan Formula E Team having once again boasted excellent one-lap pace.

The Frenchman looked quick at the Portland International Raceway and actually topped Free Practice 2, filling him with hope ahead of qualifying. He progressed to the Semi-Finals of the duels were he was once again beaten by his team-mate; however, his lap was still good enough for third. Nato did find himself in the lead of the race briefly, although this hurt his energy saving.

The Nissan driver did tumble down the order somewhat in the closing stages, with him having done well to hold on for ninth. Having started third, finishing towards the bottom of the points wasn’t what Nato was targeting. Nevertheless, he left the West Coast “still happy for the points”.

“We had great pace in qualifying today and I was really happy with the one-lap performance of the car. In the race, it was difficult as everybody was together as one big pack. Managing the energy was really tough, especially when leading, which caused constant side-by-side action as nobody wanted to be at the front. We didn’t have podium pace today, but considering we started third our target was definitely higher than P9, although we are still happy for the points.”

“I made a small mistake” – Sacha Fenestraz

Rookie Sacha Fenestraz definitely left Portland disappointed, as the Frenchman failed to capitalise on a front row start. Fenestraz made it to the Final of the duels where he was beaten by Jake Dennis. Missing pole didn’t really matter, given that the field were bunched together for the entire race.

With the pack having been so close, several collisions occurred at some of the heavier braking points. One of the collisions involved Fenestraz, who went into the back of his team-mate. This broke the rookie’s front wing as a result, with him having been forced to pit for a new one. Whilst a Safety Car allowed him to catch the back of the pack, he ultimately didn’t have the race pace to finish in the points.

Fenestraz owned up to the “small mistake” which left him to finish in fifteenth, with him having at least taken the “positives from qualifying” away from the weekend.

“Once again in qualifying we had amazing speed. To top a strong group and reach the final for the third time this season is a great achievement for me, and I’m very happy with our one-lap performance. It was a difficult race, this track layout isn’t ideal for Formula E cars, meaning that the whole pack bunched together for almost the entire event as nobody wanted to lead and use up their energy.

“I made a small mistake, locking up and damaging my front wing, which meant we had to box to change it. From then, it was difficult to recover, but we keep the positives from qualifying and move on to Rome.”

Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E