Podium success in Monza as points-scoring run continues

Another race weekend and another podium for Maximilian Günther: On the second weekend of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at Monza, the 19-year-old made his second podium appearance of the campaign. Günther drove from sixth to third place in the third race on the Italian Formula 1 circuit. The 2016 Formula 3 runner-up thus recorded his 17th Top Three finish in the world’s strongest junior series.

In what constituted the home race for his Prema Powerteam, Günther came back from a tricky qualifying to put in three impressive performances in the races themselves. On Saturday, he moved up from 14th on the grid to seventh at the finish line. In the first of Sunday’s two races, he made good three positions to narrowly miss out on a podium in fourth place. With P3 in the final race, Günther scored further vital points towards the championship.

The starter line-up for this year’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship is perhaps stronger than ever before. Consistency is therefore the key to success. Günther continued his points-scoring run at Monza. He has had five Top Four finishes so far this season, is one of only four contestants to have scored points in every race and currently ranks fourth in the championship standings.

A new exciting chapter in Günther’s career is about to open this coming weekend when he travels with the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM team for the first time to the DTM season opener at the Hockenheimring (5th – 7th May). As the number seven driver in the squad, he will be accompanying the brand with the three-pointed star to each of the race venues on the 2017 DTM calendar, learning the tricks of the trade in readiness for a future role.

Five questions for Max Günther

You staged a magnificent pursuit in the first race, moving up to finish seventh. How did you manage that?
I got off to a good start and could have gained several positions there and then. But right in front of me, another driver stalled his engine. I had to go around him and lost momentum as a result. What’s more, I got pushed off the track in the chicane. So for the moment, I was way down in 13th position. But after that, I caught up and overtook one opponent after another. Shortly before the end, I even managed to get past two cars on one corner to take seventh place. From 14th on the grid, this was the maximum achievable in terms of damage limitation.

In the second race, you also fought your way forward…
Yes, I made good progress from seventh on the grid. All of the races were really enjoyable. Overtaking in Formula 3 is never easy, but at Monza I did really well. I fought my way forward to fourth place and then tried to close the gap on my team-mate, Mick. I had good straight-line speed, but my tyres had suffered from the pursuit. Ultimately, I concentrated on securing fourth place.

Your podium in the third race was a good way to round off the weekend. Were you expecting that?
The start went superbly well yet again, and I was soon up to fourth. I then got into a good tussle for the podium with Eriksson. I was able to overtake him and, since my speed was generally OK, I started to make ground on the race leaders. But then Eriksson came back at me, and we had another hard-fought battle. I came out on top and clinched another podium. Standing on the podium in the home race for my crew was something very special.

The battle for the championship is as tight as it has been for a long time. What’s your opinion of that?
There are currently three teams in contention for the championship: my Prema crew, plus Carlin and Motopark. It’s too early to be making any forecasts, but I’m sure that our team has not lost any of last year’s competitiveness. However, it is tighter than in previous years and the standard is even higher. I hope that we can show our opponents that we mean business quite soon. There’s a long way to go before the championship is decided. That is why it’s important to score decent points on a consistent basis. And that’s what I managed to do again this weekend.

Three weeks from now, you will be competing in the Grand Prix de Pau (20th – 21st May). What are your expectations for this famous street circuit race?
First, I’m looking forward to next weekend when I accompany the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM team to Hockenheim. This is going to be a great experience for me. Two weeks later, we’ll be in Pau. It’s going to be a fascinating weekend, because the circuit there is completely different from Silverstone or Monza. It’s a very tight track – you’re whizzing along between barriers. I know Pau well, because it was where I had my first podium finish in Formula 3. Qualifying is clearly the key to success there, so we need to make sure we do a perfect job right from the word go.