Maximilian Günther was forced to play second fiddle to Lance Stroll for much of the Nurburgring weekend of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, but finally got the better of the Canadian in the final race on Sunday, clinching his fourth victory of 2016.
Günther finished second to Prema Powerteam team-mate Stroll in Saturday’s opening race, capitalising on a brief issue with Nick Cassidy’s car to move into the runners-up spot having trailed the New Zealander up until that point.
“I was still in third place after the start but benefited from Nick Cassidy’s problems,” said Günther. “I was close to him but was in dirty air and unable to overtake.
“He had some issue or other, unfortunately. I was very pleased to take second place, but a one-two-three finish for Prema Powerteam would have been very nice.”
Günther got the jump on Stroll at the start of race two, and led for much of the race, including during a mid-race safety car period when Cassidy clashed with Callum Ilott and retired, but the German was unable to keep hold of the lead until the chequered flag, with Stroll passing into the chicane on lap seventeen.
“My start was brilliant, as was the re-start after the safety car had been called back in,” said Günther. “I broke away from the rest of the field with my team-mate.
“He overtook me on the back straight on Lap 17. I turned my focus to securing second place and vital points after that.”
Starting from pole position, Günther was not in the mood to see Stroll take a hat-trick of victories, and drove superbly to take the chequered flag first more than three seconds ahead of his main championship rival.
“It’s obviously great fun to defend pole position and cross the finish line in the lead,” said Günther. “I made a terrific start and stayed ahead while maintaining a good pace from the very first lap.
“At the same time, I was well aware that I had to go the distance on the same tyres, which is why I focused on driving as consistently and cleanly as possible in the race. I managed to do that really well.
“I continuously extended the gap on those in pursuit throughout. In the end, I crossed the finish line with a lead of three seconds, which felt fantastic!”
Will Stroll 68 points ahead in the championship, Günther knows it is now a long shot for him to take the title, but is going to keep pushing until it is mathematically impossible, safe in the knowledge that anything can happen in motorsport.
“I’ll keep on fighting until it’s mathematically no longer possible,” insisted Günther. “I’ll concentrate on my performance and take each race as it comes.
“Of course, you always have the championship floating around at the back of your mind as the season draws to a close. I’ll keep pushing until the end as long as there’s still a chance of clinching the title.
“Lance currently has a decent lead, for sure, but I’ll be ready to pounce, and then we’ll see how things turn out.”