Overtaking spectacular at Spa

The place on the rookie podium was a nice reward

Maximilian Günther has just raced on arguably the most exciting circuit in the world. The 17-year old was competing on the fifth race weekend of the 2015 FIA Formula 3 Championship at Spa-Francorchamps. On the legendary Ardennes rollercoaster, Maxi once again ascended the rookie podium and twice made it into the Top Ten in a field of 36.

Maxi how would you sum up your weekend at Spa after gaining a total of 24 positions, 20 of them in the last two races?
I´m definitely satisfied with my race performance. The straight-line speed was there, and I made the best of it. The charges up field, which I staged in both the wet and the dry, showed that I can cope well with different weather conditions. The P7 and P8 finishes have earned some important points towards the championship. The place on the rookie podium in Race 2 was a nice reward. All in all, a decent weekend after a difficult qualifying.

So far this season, you´ve been putting in some strong performances in qualifying. Why wasn´t Spa so good?
In the first qualifying session, I was struggling with the balance of my car and simply could not get up to speed. It happens. For the second qualifying, we made some changes to the car, which paid off. I had a really good feeling in the cockpit. I was saving everything up for the last two or three laps because the track was getting faster all the time. I was waiting for the right moment and getting myself in the right frame of mind for the final sprint. But unfortunately, just as I got going, qualifying was red-flagged. I was bitterly disappointed, because I could have gone much faster. I´m sure that I could have qualified for one of the front grid positions. But anyway, that´s the sort of thing that happens in motor racing.

Because of the rain, it was pretty chaotic in the third race. How did you manage to move up from 18th to eighth?
I got off to a good start and threaded my way through the mayhem. On a wet track, it´s important to get through the first lap in one piece. I managed to do that. I was able to overtake other cars right from the outset and make my way forward, one car at a time. With all the chaos around me, it was very important to finish the race and score points. Considering my starting position, that was a satisfying outcome.

How difficult was it to gain places in such rainy conditions?
It was quite tricky, but I felt perfectly safe in the car and had everything under control. You need a certain level of confidence to make your way through such a tightly packed field. This was the crucial factor in overtaking during the third race. We were driving on slick tyres and I had to leave the dry racing line to commence an overtaking manoeuvre. Driving on slicks then feels like you´re on soap. Overtaking was only possible with superior speed, so I had to step on the gas. Because of the conditions, it was almost impossible to outbrake the other cars.

Away from the track, you also had an interesting time, meeting FIA president Jean Todt on Saturday evening at Spa.
Yes, it was a special experience. After all, Jean Todt is the most important man in motor racing. It was great to meet him. During the photo shoot with all of us drivers at the summit of Eau Rouge, he was very personable and chatted freely. His visit shows the importance of the Formula 3 Championship, especially when you remember that Formula 1 was taking place on the same weekend in Austria. A memorable occasion for me away from the racing action. I would be delighted to meet Jean Todt again some time in the future.

You´ll be back behind the wheel of your Formula 3 car as soon as next weekend. The race weekend at the Norisring in Nuremberg is one of the highlights on the racing calendar.
This will definitely be a spectacular event. We´re once again a support series to the DTM, and I know that the grandstands will be well and truly packed. I´ll be driving at the Norisring for the very first time, but I feel fully prepared. My podium finish in the Grand Prix de Pau gives me confidence that I´ll cope well with the street circuit in Nuremberg. With so many cars on such a short track, qualifying will play an enormously important role. I´m looking forward to the fast laps where you´re almost touching the wall.

Foto: Mario Bartkowiak