Following their success at the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix last month, with Sacha Fenestraz securing the Julius Baer Pole Position and becoming the championship’s second-youngest pole sitter, Nissan had hoped to build on the potential they know is in the car.
Things started promisingly as both drivers set quick lap times over the two Free Practice sessions. Then came qualifying, where Norman Nato missed out on his first Duels appearance of the season by just two-hundreds of a second but managed to start eighth after those further up the grid had penalties applied.
However, just moments after lights out, Nato was involved in a first-lap collision which took him out of the race in dramatic fashion. “Argh, Rene [Rast] squeezed me,” the Frenchman said on the team radio after the shunt, which saw him do a wheelie and narrowly avoided wiping out both NEOM McLaren cars.
“Lining up in P8, I was on the dirty side of the grid, so I didn’t make a great start and was immediately involved in a really tight battle,” Nato explained after the São Paulo race.
“Heading into Turn 3, the driver ahead of me had to stop sharply to avoid contact, and I had nowhere to go. I tried to go round him, but it was too late, and unfortunately, we made contact that ended my race. It wasn’t the day we expected, but we’re making progress, and we’ll look to do better in Berlin and score good points after this short break.”
With one Nissan out, all eyes were on Fenestraz, but only laps later, the young French-Argentine made contact with the wall, which ended his race, too.
“It was an unfortunate event for the whole team with both Norman and me out early,” Fenestraz added, having previously mentioned how excited he was for round six of the championship as it was the closest home race he had.
“It’s a big shame because we were expecting better following our strong performances in recent rounds. We know there will be ups and downs in this championship, and that’s exactly what happened here.
“I was just settling into the race when I hit the brakes to avoid an incident in front of me at Turn 4 and 5, locking up the rear and touching the wall. The contact caused damage to the wishbone and radiator and ended our day. A difficult weekend but there are still positives we can build on, and we’ll aim to come back stronger.”
A double header in Berlin is next for the championship, with Nato hoping to repeat his successes at the historic Tempelhof venue when he achieved his first and only win back in Season 7.