Maximilian Günther is Formula 3 championship runner-up

Maximilian Günther is the 2016 Formula 3 championship runner-up. He took second place overall in the world’s strongest junior formula racing series during the season finale at the Hockenheimring. In front of 142,000 spectators over the weekend, Günther drove to second place in the first of the three races, laying the foundations for the runner’s-up title in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. With 322 points, Günther finished his second season in Formula 3 directly behind his Prema Powerteam colleague Lance Stroll.

Four wins, seven pole positions, thirteen podium places and four fastest race laps was the sum total of Günther’s impressive tally this season. The 19-year-old finished on the podium in 43 percent of the 30 races. The young talent sponsored by Mercedes-Benz kept his cool until the season finale at the Hockenheimring and dealt with the pressure to succeed. The grand finale to the year still lies ahead of Günther with the FIA F3 World Cup in the Chinese city of Macau.

Max, what does it mean to you to finish as runner-up in Formula 3?
It’s incredible! If someone had told me a few years ago that this was going to happen, I would have said, OK, thank you very much. The season has been fantastic from start to finish. It just feels like nothing on earth to have a team behind me, with whom I could compete for the championship and become European championship runner-up in only my second year in Formula 3. Working with the guys from Prema has always been a lot of fun. They’re really on the ball. The atmosphere within the team is both very friendly and yet very professional at the same time. I’m extremely happy to be a part of the Prema family.

You kept things exciting until the very end. How did you deal with all the pressure?
My goal was clear, to finish as championship runner-up. Unfortunately, the last weekend in Imola didn’t go according to plan, but I quickly drew a line under it to focus exclusively on the season finale, because it was very clear that there was no room for mistakes at the Hockenheimring. We did a really good job with second place on the grid in the first qualifying session and laid the foundations for success. The first race was then like riding a tiger to the end…

Race 1 could hardly be bettered for excitement. You stayed calm despite all the action going on around you.
I made a really good start. Things were fairly close initially. There was a slight contact on the approach to the Mercedes Arena. I immediately gave it some opposite lock to avoid a spin. It was a tough fight with my team mate. However, I lost two places as a result. My speed was really good, and I was able to edge into second place over the course of several laps. I overtook in the Parabolica and finished second. Eighth place in the second race was enough to wrap up the title as European championship runner-up before season’s end.

How did you celebrate your success?
I was surprised with a small celebration and cake, which I was very delighted about. Of course, we also raised a glass to the title, joined by close members of the team, my family, partners and fans. We really enjoyed the moment and celebrated in style. I was also pleased that other drivers, including last year’s F3 champion, Felix Rosenqvist, and some guys from Mercedes also came along to congratulate me.

In November, you’ll be lining up for the first time in the FIA F3 World Cup in Macau. Are you looking forward to entering the most important Formula 3 race in the world on the street circuit in China?
You bet! Yes, I’m really looking forward to it! Driving for the first time in Macau will be a very special experience. I’ll be lining up there with SJM Theodore Racing By Prema. My team-mates have plenty of Macau experience and are really strong. Still, the past has shown that you can still finish up front even as a rookie, which is why I have high expectations of the race. Driving on this high-speed street circuit will be extremely exciting. The track is very narrow but incredibly fast at the same time. This will set the seal on an almost perfect year.