There are just three races remaining as we count down to the end of the current season and the season finale at the Hockenheimring. But first, Maximilian Günther and Prema Powerteam headed to the Red Bull Ring for the ninth race weekend of the season. The reigning European Formula 3 championship runner-up managed to twice finish in the Top Three at the Formula 1 circuit there last year. Building on that was a step in the right direction for the 20-year-old in his bid to maintain his chances of success in the title fight.
An error-free qualifying for the first race resulted in second place on the grid for the Prema Powerteam driver. Günther converted his excellent starting position into his 14th podium so far of the current season by finishing in third place.
Günther and his team deployed a more aggressive strategy in the last two races at the Red Bull Ring with their sights set firmly on the win in both races. However, setup changes to his racing car failed to produce the desired results. Günther only managed to achieve P7 in Race 1 and P5 in the last round of the race weekend in Styria.
But the Prema Powerteam driver reduced his deficit on the championship leader, thus keeping alive his chances of taking his first title win in this Formula 3 championship. The grand finale will be at the Hockenheimring on the weekend of 14th – 15th October.
Max, you laid the foundations for third place in the first race with P2 in the first qualifying session…
Yes. Many things came together really well in the qualifying on Friday afternoon. I was also very satisfied with the result. Of course, starting on the front row of the grid in such a strong field as in the Formula 3 championship is worth its weight in gold. I ultimately missed pole position by a little more than a hundredth of a second. We did a really good job as a team and found a great basic setup.
You have made a strong start with your 14th podium finish in the first race. How did it go?
I took plenty of risks at the start, because I wanted to win the race. I wasn’t as successful this time and lost a place as a result. My main competitor in the championship was right behind me, but I maintained my position. I tried everything I could to put pressure on the two cars in front of me, but it’s not easy in open-wheel racing to get all that close to the car in front of you, because your front tyres soon get ruined. My goal was to win the race, but I can be very satisfied with third place.
The field was again tightly bunched in qualifying for Race 2 and 3. You qualified ninth and sixth. Why was that?
We dialled in a slightly more aggressive setup for the rest of the weekend in order to have a bit more to play with as regards straight-line speed. Unfortunately, the modification did not work out as we’d hoped, so we were not able to contend for a place on the front row in qualifying but were only one tenth of a second down on third place. Then, there would have been a lot more in it for us, but that’s how it goes sometimes in motor racing.
So that made your initial position tough for the last two races. How did things go?
Both starts were faultless this time around and even quite brilliant in the third race. An extremely action-packed start was the main feature of Race 2 with some really good scraps, and I moved up two places. I gained a lot of ground in the last race with a mega start but took a knock in Turn 2, unfortunately, and dropped back again. I also damaged the front suspension on the sausage kerbs. I limited the damage as much as possible with fifth place.
You have notched up 339 points and are 72 points down on the championship leader, so with that in mind, how will you tackle the last three races?
I will do my very best to win the championship as long as it’s still mathematically possible. That’s my goal, and that’s why I’m in this sport. However, I am enough of a realist to know that it’s going to be a difficult undertaking, because it’s not solely up to me to win the title. Anything can happen in motor racing and in sport in general as we’ve already experienced, so I’ll approach the season finale in a very focused manner to get the maximum out of myself and our overall package.