Podium and vital championship points at Norisring

A round of the FIA Formula 3 European championship was staged in Nuremberg on the weekend of 24th – 26th June. Maximilian Günther & Co concluded the first half of the season under the banner of the DTM. It was an important weekend for the 18-year-old, because, apart from securing 25 points towards the championship for third place and P5, some of his teachers were also at the Norisring to present him with his school-leaving certificate.

Podium in the second race – a DNF in the first – a mixed bag on Saturday. But can we ask you first about qualifying…?
Qualifying went quite well, even though it was very close this time. We made a small mistake with timing in Q1. My last lap would have been enough for third place. However, it did not count, because I crossed the finish line half a second too late. Things were extremely close in the second segment of qualifying. I would have been on pole on Saturday and Sunday if I’d been just 15 thousandths of a second faster.

There was a contact right at the start of the first race that had serious consequences for you.
My aim was to move up a few places right at the start and keep out of the jockeying for position in midfield. Unfortunately, I had a contact with another driver in the first turn, damaging my suspension. Although I was able to keep up with the other cars in front of me, I couldn’t attack. I tried to push forwards, but the car had sustained too much damage, and I finally had to abandon the race.

However, you then battled your way up into third place in the second race.
The second race went very well. I made a strong start, was up there with the leaders and managed the gap between the car in front of me and the one behind really well. We made a couple of changes to setup, and I felt extremely comfortable in the car. This third place means vital points towards the championship. Yes, there are good places to overtake at the Norisring, but all of them are associated with huge risk. It therefore made more sense to secure the points for third place rather than risk another retirement.

You were fifth in Sunday’s race and thus tightened your grip on second place in the championship.
I pushed from fourth place on the grid, trying to fight my way up into P3 but lost fourth place as a result. Then came the red flag. From that point on, I tried to secure the points while still keeping an eye on the podium. The drivers running different engines to me were able to exit the final turn really well, which made overtaking there extremely difficult without taking too many risks. I clinched important points with my fifth place and even extended my lead on my immediate competitors for second place in the championship.

The first half of the season is now over, and you are second in the championship standings. What do you think of your record so far?
What’s important to me is that the championship is not yet over. There are still a lot of points to be won. I’m pleased with Prema Powerteam and very happy. We’ve produced strong performances in qualifying and have also won races. That’s the positive side of things. Of course, we’ve also been unlucky, and that has cost us points. The first half of the season hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been a good one. We still have half a season ahead of us, during which we will endeavour to correct one or two things.

In just under three weeks’ time, you will be heading to the Netherlands and Zandvoort which is a real drivers’ track.
Zandvoort is undoubtedly one of my favourite circuits. The dunes and special track layout with its turns are very interesting. Zandvoort makes big demands on drivers. It’s mainly about having confidence in your car there. These are all things that suit me down to the ground. We will test on Wednesday and Thursday and try out a couple of things. I know that we’re well prepared for our trip to the Netherlands, and the pressure is off a bit now that I’ve left school. I would like at this point to take the opportunity to thank my teachers, who travelled specially to the Norisring to present me with my school-leaving certificate, as I was unable to attend the official awards ceremony. It was really nice of them.