Out of luck on Imola debut – Focus now turns to nailing runner-up spot

Since the start of the season, Maximilian Günther has been one of the main contenders for the FIA Formula 3 European Championship title. After the penultimate race weekend of the season at Imola in Italy, victory in the drivers’ championship is now a mathematical impossibility. Prema team-mate and Formula 1 junior driver Lance Stroll has clinched the title with one weekend to spare.

Meanwhile, Günther was left to rue his first non-scoring race weekend for more than a year. On a race debut at Imola that was plagued by bad luck and technical problems, the talented youngster could finish no higher than twelfth and eleventh; in the second of the three races, he didn’t even make it to the chequered flag.

In 21 of the 24 races contested prior to Imola in the 2016 season, Günther had finished among the Top Seven. Despite drawing a blank in Italy, Günther goes into the grand finale of the strongest junior racing series in the world at the Hockenheimring with an excellent chance of lifting the runner-up trophy. With 75 points still up for grabs, he has a 36-point lead over the third-placed driver.

Günther can at least celebrate one early success: he and the other Prema Powerteam squad members have just wrapped up the team title. Günther played a major role in the successful title bid by virtue of his twelve podiums, four wins and seven pole positions from 27 races.

Imola was the only weekend on which Günther was totally out of luck. As the result of a crash at the beginning of the first free practice session, he missed the entire preparation for qualifying as well as for the first race. Günther finished both of the subsequent qualifying sessions in the Top Five. Due to a technical problem on his car, all of his lap times were disallowed. Starting from the back of the grid, he ended both races outside the points.

Günther’s focus is now on nailing the runner-up spot. The 19-year-old has a good track record at Hockenheim, which counts as one of his home races. In six previous races there, he has started from the first or second row on five occasions and finished in the Top Six every time.

Maximilian Günther: “I’ve never experienced a weekend like Imola before. Pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Too bad, because I wanted to keep my chances of winning the championship alive until the season finale in front of my home crowd. Imola was unlucky, but I now have to put that behind me. We have shown throughout the season that we are capable of competing for the win. We now need to build on that at Hockenheim, a track where I have always felt good. There is one positive outcome that I can take away from Imola: together, we have won the team championship with races to spare. I am very happy for my crew at Prema. This is the reward for all their hard work. Congratulations to my team-mate Lance on winning the title after putting up such a tough fight for the whole of this season.”