Maximilian Günther secured his second FIA European Formula 3 Championship victory with a hard-fought triumph in race three at Paul Ricard, his first victory for Prema Powerteam.
The German teenager had a strong showing in France, with two pole positions to compliment his win, although he was an early casualty from race two after finishing race one in fifth.
Günther was quick all weekend long, and was happy to secure his maiden pole positions during Friday’s second qualifying session, and admitted he already feels comfortable driving the Prema car.
“Everything has to be perfect for a pole in this closely fought series, for sure!” reflected Günther. “Posting fastest lap twice was just great.
“I felt very comfortable in the car even in practice where I also set best time. It’s particularly important in Formula 3 to start as far up the field as possible. Overtaking is not easy, because the cars produce so much downforce.”
Günther finished fifth in the opening race of the season, but reflected on the difficulties of passing within European Formula 3 without taking too much of a risk with lap times being so similar.
“Lap times are usually pretty similar at the head of the field, as we saw in the first race where I got a super start and moved up quickly into P5,” said Günther.
“Whilst I kept pace with the leaders after that, I simply couldn’t pass the guy in front without taking too big a risk.”
Despite starting on pole for race two, Günther’s race was over early when a bad start put him in the middle of a chaotic first corner, with the German one of four retirements with damage, with the eighteen year old showing obvious frustration as he rued a missed opportunity to score good points or even a win.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get off the line well and lost a couple of places,” said Günther. “I was hit by another driver on the approach to the first turn and lost control of my car as a result.
“A number of cars were involved in the collision, and I had no chance to escape the ensuing chaos. And so, my race was over on the first lap, which was obviously frustrating, because a great deal more was possible.
“We have already analysed what went wrong at the start and will make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Proving that he had learned from his race two mistake at the start, Günther made amends in race three, leading from start to finish, surviving a last corner attack from team-mate Nick Cassidy to take his second career European Formula 3 victory.
“The race was really exciting,” revealed Günther. “I got a great start from pole position and was able initially to pull out a lead of just over a second.
“However, a sidepod flap on my car broke away on the fourth lap, which slowed me down a bit. That enabled team-mate Nick Cassidy to get within a few tenths of me.
“He tried to make an overtaking manoeuvre stick in the final turn, really pushing hard at that point. I held him off and defended my lead over the final few metres to the finish line.
“Winning was very important for me this first race weekend, as it puts me in a good position for the rest of the season.”