Hollywood celebrities, winter sports stars and rain havoc

Exciting race weekend at the Red Bull Ring

It was a tricky weekend at the Red Bull Ring for Maximilian Günther and his kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport team. For the first time in his Formula 3 European Championship debut season, the 18-year-old came away from a race weekend without having scored any points. Maxi enjoyed considerable success off the track, however, coming top of the class in the second quarter of the 2015 Deutsche Post Speed Academy.

Maxi, not an easy weekend for the team and yourself. Why do you think you came away from the 24th race of the 2015 season without having scored any points all weekend?
The basic problem was qualifying. Things went fine in free practice, but I soon realised in quali that our pace wasn’t up to that of the front-runners. Unfortunately, it was a tricky weekend for the whole team. I pushed a bit too hard in qualifying because I knew that I had to go to the limit to be near the front of the grid. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake and didn’t manage to get a good lap together. From midfield, it was then hardly possible to make a decisive move towards the front.

From grid position 15 in the first two races, you finished in 20th and 14th place respectively. Up in one and down in the other. What was going on there?
In the first race, I was involved in a collision at the start. I’m not blaming the other driver – things are just incredibly tight in the middle of the field. Unfortunately, that incident cost me several places. Although I was then able to gain a few positions during the race, it put a heavy strain on my tyres. After that, it was difficult to make up ground significantly. In the second race, things went better. After a decent start, I got stuck behind my team-mate Santino Ferrucci. I made several overtaking attempts because my pace was superior, but I wasn’t able to make it stick.

The third race on Sunday was a bit strange. Due to the extreme rain, you started behind the safety car and continued until the race was eventually stopped. What’s it like to be in the cockpit under these circumstances?
I considered the decision by the race stewards to be the correct one. Because of the spray, it was impossible to see what was ahead from the cockpit. On the straights, you were nearly losing the car even in third gear. It was a bitter disappointment, because I had been looking forward to a race in rainy conditions. In recent years, I’ve always been strong in wet races. Consequently, I had been counting on getting among the points from grid position 18, which would have been some consolation at the end of the weekend. Looking at the championship, it was good from my perspective that only half points were awarded for the race.

Away from the track, you’ve once again had a major success. It was announced this week that you’ve come top in the second evaluation period of the Deutsche Post Speed Academy.
Yes, after a difficult weekend in Austria, this great news has come at just the right time. It’s a nice feeling to be in the running for the overall win. After all, I want to defend my title from last year. But I know that this won’t be easy. I’ll just continue doing my best.

Among the spectators watching your Formula 3 European Championship race at Spielberg were Hollywood megastars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas. Did you meet them?
Unfortunately not, but I did meet Felix Neureuther, Marcel Hirscher and Aksel Lund Svindal who were also racing as guest entrants in the context of the DTM weekend. They are star names in winter sports, and it was great to have the opportunity to chat with them. We took selfies and of course talked about motor racing. I’m a big fan of winter sports and watch every race on television, schedule permitting. It was therefore all the more cool to meet up with the guys in my own motorsport environment.

A brief look at your next race weekend in Portugal, 4th to 6th September…
I’m really looking forward to Portimao. I know the track from my time in Formula BMW and have already won races there. The circuit is very varied, with some elevation changes and with a mix of fast and medium fast corners. In addition, it’s highly demanding in terms of concentration and fitness. I am very excited about my first laps in a Formula 3 car there, because they will be a lot faster than when I was competing in Formula BMW.

Foto: Alexander Trienitz