Historic victory in highlight of racing calendar at Norisring

First Formula 3 victory for Maximilian Günther

Watched by 123,000 spectators, Maximilian Günther caused something of a sensation in the highlight of the racing calendar at the Norisring. In the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at Nuremberg, the 17-year-old came from twelfth place on the grid to win the second of three races. Never before in the history of this top junior series has a regular contestant made such a dramatic charge up the field to ultimate victory. Furthermore, it was only the second time that a German driver has won a race in the Formula 3 Championship since its inaugural season in 2013. In the rookie standings, Günther is now up to third place.

Maxi, a victory for the record books. How did you achieve this sensational charge from twelfth on the grid?
I got off to an excellent start and had already moved up to seventh from twelfth after the first corner. Then, I was almost spun round by another car, losing two positions in the process. When the safety car came out for the first time, I was running ninth. The restart went very well for me, and I improved by two positions. Then came the next safety car period, at the end of which I immediately gained three more places. Having got up to fourth, I was actually very pleased with my performance.

The safety car was then deployed for the third time. After that, you put on probably the most spectacular display of overtaking seen all season…
After the restart, I thought that I could get past maybe one or two of the drivers ahead of me. In the hairpin, I took up a good position on the inside of the track and went past all three at the same time. It was simply fantastic! I then drove one qualifying lap after another in flat-out mode and was able to build up a lead which got the other cars out of my slipstream. I didn’t make a single mistake and wrapped up the victory.

What was your first thought after crossing the finish line?
Just awesome! I couldn’t believe it; after all, no-one would have given me any chance starting from twelfth. This victory shows that anything is possible if the package as a whole is right – and it could not have been better this time. With my podium finish in the Grand Prix de Pau, I proved that I’m capable of fighting for race wins in Formula 3. The fact that we did it on this historical track makes it all the more amazing. But we mustn’t rest on our laurels; we’ve still got a long season ahead of us.

You celebrated the win in a very special way. Please tell us about that.
On Sunday afternoon, I jumped into the lake in my racing overalls! It sounds a bit crazy, but there’s a story behind it. Going into the weekend, I had a bet with my engineer Ashley that I would jump in the Dutzendteich if I won one of the races. Well, paying off your bets is a matter of honour. Incidentally, you can see a video of it on my Facebook page. I’d quite happily do something similar if it meant that I’d won another race. The next race weekend is at Zandvoort, and it’s not all that far to the sea…

How would you sum up the race weekend at the Norisring?
The victory was obviously the highlight, but fourth place in Race 1 is also worth a mention. I started the race from second on the grid after a good qualifying and scored further important points towards the championship. The only annoying part was having to retire in the third race after a no-fault collision with another car. My pace was super, and I would certainly have been in contention for another podium. All in all, though, I can feel well satisfied. I’m third in the rookie championship, and we can build on that.

The seventh race weekend of the year takes place between 10th and 12th July at Zandvoort. What are your expectations for the Netherlands?
The Zandvoort track has been built in a natural setting and features some hair-raising corners. After all my successes to date, I’ll be approaching the race weekend with great confidence. I had a major success there in the 2014 Formel ADAC: a double pole in qualifying and then my first win driving a formula car in the wet. After that, it was clear to me that I’m capable of winning in all weather conditions.

Foto: Alexander Trienitz