“Could this be the next German Formula 1 world champion?”

“Could this be the next German Formula 1 world champion?” This was the headline in BILD am SONNTAG on 18th December 2016. The subject of the speculation was Maximilian Günther, who finished the recent FIA Formula 3 European Championship as runner-up. The 19-year-old has already been in close proximity to the Formula 1 championship trophy at the ADAC SportGala in Munich where he appeared on the same stage as world champion Nico Rosberg. Being voted 2016 ADAC Junior Motorsport Personality of the Year was the icing on the cake for Günther at the end of his most successful motorsport season to date. The Mercedes-Benz formula racing protégé can look back on a string of successes both on and off the track.

Seeking to emulate the likes of Vettel and Rosberg
Maximilian Günther was voted ADAC Junior Motorsport Personality of the Year on the basis of his outstanding performance in 2016. Former Mercedes-Benz Vice-President Motorsport Norbert Haug presented the award at the ADAC SportGala in Munich. Haug: “This trophy also comes with a degree of expectation. Two of your predecessors have since become Formula 1 champions. Nico Rosberg was voted ADAC Junior Motorsport Personality of the Year in 2005, and eleven years later he won the Formula 1 world championship. Sebastian Vettel picked up the ADAC Junior Motorsport Personality of the Year award in 2004 and clinched the first of four world championship titles six years later. One thing I can promise you, Max: nobody will object if you do the same in less time.”

Repeat accolade: Germany’s Most Promising Driver of the Year
For the second time in three years, Maximilian Günther has been voted ‘Deutschlands Motorsport-Talent des Jahres’ (Germany’s Most Promising Driver of the Year). At the Deutsche Post Speed Academy, he overcame the challenge of six other talented youngsters to walk away with a grant worth €65,000. This was Günther’s second triumph in Germany’s most highly rated junior motorsport programme (the first being in 2014) which has produced Formula 1 superstars such as Nico Hülkenberg and Pascal Wehrlein. Max: “This latest win shows that I have been steadily raising my game and building on my previous performances – despite stiffening competition.”

Successful DTM debut with Mercedes-AMG
In late November, Maximilian Günther was posting his first laps in a car with roof – and no ordinary racing car. As a reward for his successes, he was invited by Mercedes-AMG to participate in a two-day DTM test at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain, where he put in a total of 242 laps in a 500-horsepower touring car. Max’s verdict on the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM: “I’ve just had two really cool days in this mega vehicle. Every time I got out of the car, I had a big grin on my face.”

Debut in the world’s most famous F3 race
The Macau Grand Prix is one of the undisputed classics of motor racing. As the race around the street circuit in China got underway for the 63rd time, one of the drivers making his debut was Maximilian Günther. He was a member of the SJM Theodore Racing by Prema squad, an outfit which has won the race eight times. One of those victories came in 1983 with Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna at the wheel. In qualifying, Günther was the third-fastest Macau rookie on the treacherous high-speed track. He qualified seventh in a line-up of the world’s top 29 Formula 3 drivers. In the race itself, however, a no-fault collision led to premature retirement.

On the way to the top: FIA Formula 3 European Championship runner-up
Maximilian Günther attracted international attention in 2016 by finishing second in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. He was a genuine contender for the title in the world’s strongest junior series and became the first German driver since Nico Hülkenberg in 2008 to lead the FIA Formula 3 European Championship for part of the campaign. Günther’s record in his second Formula 3 season: four victories, seven pole positions, 13 podium appearances and four fastest race laps. He also played a decisive part in winning the team championship for his Prema Powerteam.

So what’s the plan for 2017?
After such an outstanding season in 2016, Maximilian Günther intends to build on his successes next year and take the next step on the career ladder. Max is prepared to reveal one key fact: “I will be competing in a single-seater racing series in 2017. We’ve had very positive discussions over the winter, and I’m convinced that we’ve put together a great all-round package. I’ll let the precise details be a surprise.” At the beginning of next year, Günther will officially announce his plans in full.