Double podium success at Red Bull Ring in Austria
An eventful weekend at the Red Bull Ring for Maximilian Günther in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship: On the Formula 1 race track at Spielberg, the 18-year-old scored two podiums from three races. In addition to his two victories so far in the current campaign, Günther can now look back on five podium finishes from twelve races. The youngster, who drives for the Italian Prema Powerteam outfit, is up to third place in the championship on 123 points, just five behind second place.
Max, the weekend started strongly with your podium success in the first race. Are you satisfied with that result?
I got off to a good start from second on the grid and took the lead, but quite early on in the race, I was struggling with brake problems. This affected my speed and I soon fell back to fourth place. I had to adapt my driving style, for example by adjusting the brake balance. This worked well, and I was able to get back up to third. Under the circumstances, I was never going to do better than P3. That was a shame, because as regards basic speed, I was on song and could have won. In the second race on Saturday, I started from seventh place and crossed the finish line in sixth. That wasn’t quite up to our expectations, but ultimately every single point could be crucial.
In the third race on Sunday, you made your fifth podium appearance of the season. Tell us about your spectacular charge forward from seventh?
I immediately settled into the race and succeeded in battling my way through from seventh to fifth on the first lap. The restart after a safety car deployment was really tense. I got myself in the best possible position behind the two drivers in front of me and went past them on the long straight. I soon managed to pull away and to establish a comfortable lead of several seconds. I was able to control the pace well with regard to the pursuing pack. But ultimately, there was insufficient time to attack the two front-runners, so I then concentrated on securing third place. I achieved the maximum that was possible in this race. Thanks at this point to my team for the great car – the guys have done a fantastic job once again.
Your five pole positions so far make you the most successful qualifier this season. At the Red Bull Ring you were on the way to claiming your sixth…
The first qualifying session was very good, and I set the fastest time for pole position. A short while after qualifying, there were discussions about a yellow flag period. The stewards decided to exclude my fastest lap time which demoted me to second place. In this situation, I was probably at the wrong place at the wrong time. Sure it bothers me, because ultimately I was the one who set the fastest time. In the second qualifying session, there was heavy traffic on the track and it was difficult to get a clear run. I was repeatedly blocked by slower cars and had to settle for two seventh places.
Up next is the Norisring in Nuremberg, which is surely the highlight of the year for you. That was where you scored your first victory in Formula 3 last year. What does returning there this season mean to you?
For me, it’s once again a very special weekend, because the Norisring is my home track. From the Allgäu region, I have only a short trip to Nuremberg. The track is very short and tight; also it doesn’t have a lot of corners. Everything has to be just right there. You have to take each corner very precisely and cleanly. The Norisring is a special challenge which I found very enjoyable last year. To be returning now with the guys from Prema is an incredible feeling.
In 2015, you celebrated your Norisring victory by jumping fully clothed into the nearby Dutzendteich lake. What are your plans this time if you repeat your race win?
Last year was me redeeming a bet I had made with my engineer. Sporting bets are matters of honour after all. I would have no problem with jumping into the Dutzendteich again this year. But of course it all depends on the bet that I make with the team this time. Wait and see what happens if I win again. You might be surprised…