Speed Demons and Dream Teams: Nissan Formula E Team

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The newest edition of our Speed Demons and Dream Teams series focuses on Nissan FE Team and its two (rookie) drivers: Norman Nato and Sacha Fenestraz. You ready?

Photo Credit: Nissan FE Media Bank / Spacesuit Media

Nissan, the only Japanese manufacturer in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship Series, made its debut in the all-electric series back in 2018 with the fifth season of the championship. Let’s get to know the team that is now in the 7th place of the Teams’ Standings with 30 points.

The Nissan Formula E team is a force to be reckoned with on the racetrack. With a base in Le Mans, France and its roots in Japanese car making experience, the team has created a new all-electric powertrain specifically for their Formula E race car. Combining racing experience with knowledge of EVs, this team offers a unique combination of cutting-edge technology and engineering.

The team’s first season saw huge success, with six podium finishes, six pole positions and 16 Super Pole appearances. With the performance of both Buemi and Rowland, the Nissan team became the leading qualifying team in the championship and ultimately ended with the team’s first ever victory, at the final race weekend in New York City. These achievements showcase Nissan’s drive to excel on the racetrack and innovate their designs.

Nissan’s first two Formula E campaigns were driven by Formula E veteran Sebastien Buemi and British driver Oliver Rowland. Buemi earned Nissan its first podium of the 2019/20 season by driving the team’s ‘kimono inspired’ car in Mexico City’s Round 4. Building on several impressive results, Nissan managed to fire into second place on the teams’ standings at the end of Season 6 of Formula E.

Nissan e.dams had a lot of promise going into the 2020/21 Formula E season, and their performance certainly lived up to that promise. The marque managed to regain its former competitive prowess despite rule changes from the previous season stemming from its twin-motor solution being outlawed. Oliver Rowland gained his maiden win in Berlin, followed by a podium finish in Puebla and another at Tempelhof after an unfortunate tangle with Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ) cost him points in London. Meanwhile, Sebastien Buemi rounded off with his lowest point score yet, managing a best of fifth in Rome out of all the rounds.

The 2021/22 Formula E season for the Nissan e.dams team was one of disappointment as they achieved their worst overall performance in the series to date. After Maximilian Guenther’s recruitment to help power the Gen 2 swansong, the team failed to make an impact in either Constructors’ or Drivers’ championship standings, settling for a ninth-place finish at season’s end. Despite this, Sebastien Buemi provided a glimmer of hope with his fifth-place result in Marrakesh – Nissan’s highest score of the season.

The start of the Gen3 era marks a new dawn for Nissan in the Formula E as they embark on the 2022/23 season with an all-new line-up. Race winner Norman Nato returns following his one-season sabbatical while rookie Sacha Fenestraz joins him, making his full-time start. Currently sitting 7th in the constructors championship, with no wins or podiums to their name yet, Nissan have had a shaky start to the season – but with 12 points scored in Round 9, Jakarta saw Fenestraz finish P4 and move 7 points ahead of his teammate with 19 overall. With this impressive display from Fenestraz and some luck down the road for both drivers, Nissan may yet be contenders this season.

The team is led and managed by Tommasso Volpe, an Italian native from Calabria with a wealth of motorsports and automotive experience. After working at KPMG and Johnson & Johnson, in 2008 he began his career in the sector with Ferrari as corporate marketing manager, being later named Head of Marketing at the Lotus Group. With INFINITI in 2014, Volpe was responsible for growing their role in Formula One until becoming Managing Director and Team Principle of Nissan’s Formula E programmes.

During this time, he has used the series to demonstrate the capability of EV technology and played an instrumental role in the development of their road car design. Thanks to his expertise, Nissan will remain committed to Formula E until Season 12 which provides a great platform for him to showcase EV innovation as well as enhancing their presence on motor racing circuits all over the world.

Sacha Fenestraz

Sacha Fenestraz is the latest rookie driver to join FIA Formula E for the factory Nissan outfit in Season 9. Born in France and raised in Argentina, the 23-year-old has left a confident impression on various junior auto racing categories, from karting to French F4 and Japanese Formula 3.

He further showcased his talent with multiple podium finishes across Super Formula and Super GT500 championships. Fenestraz also made a brief appearance for Dragon Racing in 2020 as a replacement for Antonio Giovinazzi. As well as participating at the Marrakesh Rookie Test earlier that year for Jaguar, setting an impressive 10th quickest overall time leading to him being appointed as their test and reserve driver.

With an impressive racing career spanning different disciplines, Sacha’s diverse skills make him a formidable addition to Nissan Racing’s new line-up alongside Norman Nato as they stand poised to take on the new Gen3 era of all-electric street racing

Photo Credit: Formula E Media Bank / Simon Galloway

Norman Nato

Norman Nato is a 30 year-old racer from Cannes, France who returned to the championship with Nissan Formula E team for Season 9. Nato has been working his way up the ladder since 2006, achieving runner-up in F4 Eurocup 1.6 and winning the Formula Renault 3.5 Series title around Monte Carlo streets in 2013 as well as taking three wins and eight podiums in his three years of racing in the GP2 series (now Formula 2).

Most recently he finished third in both the 2018 European Le Mans Series and 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship. Nato had made his debut appearance in Formula E already back in 2021 Diriyah E-Prix and became only the third driver to record a win on their debut season following outstanding performances throughout that campaign with eventual penalties denying him potential podium places during Rome and Valencia rounds before registering a win at Berlin season finale race. For Season 8, Norman combined his efforts between LMP2 category of World Endurance Championship for Toyota Racing alongside reserve driver role at Jaguar TCS Racing – replacing injured Sam Bird at Seoul finale double-header.

Now eager to comeback full time this Season 9 for Nissan team – partnering compatriot Sacha Fenestraz – it remains to be seen how Nato capitalises on all of this experience to go one better than only just missing out on fifth last year when racing for ROKiT Venturi racing outfit.

Photo Credit: Nissan FE Media Bank / Spacesuit Media

Though this year has seen some disappointment for Nissan e.dams, they will be looking forward to what the future holds with their new heavily experienced lineup for Season 9. With both Sacha Fenestraz and Norman Nato showing goal promising performances already this season, it will certainly be an exciting campaign ahead for Nissan as they look to make an impact on all-electric Formula E championship once more. We’re curious to know what you think – what’s your opinion on the drivers? And if you’re a fan – what are your favorite fun facts about them? We’re looking forward to reading the comments.

For now – enjoy the race, wherever you are ✨