Rainy day at Spa: Latest podium success for Maximilian Günther
A podium in the first race and best-placed Prema driver in the second: Maximilian Günther put in yet another strong performance on the seventh race weekend of the 2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship at Spa-Francorchamps. With a ninth impressive podium of the season, Günther has had Top Three finishes in 43 percent of all races so far. About 60,000 fans saw the three races contested by the 19-year-old in the context of the famous 24-hour race on the circuit in the Belgian Ardennes.
Prema Powerteam did not have the easiest of weekends at Spa. After notching up a one-two victory in a rain-affected Race 1, they failed to finish on the podium for the first time since May in both of the others. P7 for Günther meant that he was the best-placed Prema driver in the second race. Sixth place in the final race brought several more vital points in the championship chase. He is currently second and was able to extend the lead over his closest pursuers.
Max, congratulations on securing a podium in the rain. How was the first race for you?
I started from second on the grid, and there was still a lot of water on the track. The decision of the stewards to start the race behind the safety car was therefore correct. Some sections of the track were really wet – we were aquaplaning at Eau Rouge even though we were taking it in third gear. When the race got started in earnest, I was struggling with poor visibility because of the spray. All the same, I had excellent pace in the wet. It wasn’t possible to attack the car in front, but at least there wasn’t any threat from behind. Anyway, finishing on the podium in such a difficult race obviously made me very happy. A great start to the weekend.
Overall, though, it wasn’t an easy weekend for your team. You salvaged something from it by being the best Prema driver in the second race.
I got off to a very good start from seventh place. On the first two laps, I gained a few places and moved up to fourth. But after qualifying in dry conditions, I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. For once, the team didn’t manage to get the setup perfect for our cars. That became apparent as the race progressed when I had to let a couple of opponents go past without putting up a fight. But in any case, seventh place made me the best-placed driver in our team, and I did score some decent points. It was the maximum we were going to get.
In Race 3, you made another impressive charge up the field. Were you satisfied with sixth?
In the last race too, I made a good start and immediately gained one position. Because of the slipstream on the long straight, the driver in front of me pulled me along with him. In the general confusion, I even made it up as far as third. I was intending to overtake on the outside through the chicane after the Kemmel straight, but a car ahead of me went into a spin. I had to cut the chicane to avoid a collision. This caused me to lose a lot of time, and I dropped back to fifth place. Unfortunately, my underbody got damaged in the incident, so my race chances were limited from then on. Sixth place was acceptable under the circumstances.
In the championship, it’s still looking promising for you…
I extracted the maximum available at Spa and accumulated a lot of points towards the championship. The podium on Friday was of course extremely important. But on a weekend as difficult as this, you also have to be grateful for the seventh- and sixth-place finishes. I am still well placed in the championship. Admittedly, I’m some way off first position, but there are still more than 200 points up for grabs. I have extended the lead on my closest pursuers. So all in all, I can tick the Spa weekend off as a success.
You now have more than a month before the next race at the Nürburgring. How will you be spending the summer break?
I’m looking forward to the break, although I would obviously prefer to be driving my car. In recent weeks, I’ve had a lot on my plate, what with all the racing and my school-leaving exams. It’s now time for me to recharge my batteries. I don’t intend to spend my time lazing around, however. In addition to dates in my diary with sponsors, I have a day of testing and workshops at the Deutsche Post Speed Academy. I will obviously continue to work on my fitness, because I want to be in peak form for the final sprint. And then the season resumes with one of my home races at the Nürburgring.