Last weekend’s Berlin E-Prix double-header will likely be remembered by Maximilian Günther forever, with the German having claimed Maserati’s first podium in single-seater motorsport since five-time Formula 1 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio raced for the Italians.
After having endured a disappointing season ahead of Berlin, Günther was clearly a man on a mission. The Maserati MSG Racing driver showed excellent pace throughout the weekend, with his moment of jubilation having come in Saturday’s race at the Tempelhof Airport Circuit. Günther started Saturday’s race from eighth after being the slowest loser in the Quarter-Finals; however, this had no impact on his podium chances.
The German drove very smartly all race whilst drama was unfolding around him, with the twenty-five year-old having overtaken Sébastian Buemi for third at the final corner of the race. Günther and the entire team erupted with joy as he crossed the line narrowly ahead of Buemi, after what has been a tough year so far for them in the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
“This is such an incredible feeling!” Günther said after finishing third on Saturday. “After the season we’ve had and the challenges we’ve faced – and now overcome – it feels so good to be on the podium. Achieving this at my home race, in Berlin, makes it an even more satisfying way to celebrate, and knowing that I’m the first driver since Fangio to finish on the podium for Maserati in single-seater motorsport is a great honour.
“The race was hard-fought throughout, and my battle with Seb at the end – knowing that so much was on the line – was intense. I’m so proud of everyone in the team for achieving this result, and with the benefit of a double-header, we will try to keep this momentum going.“
Sunday’s race was certainly more challenging for Günther but perhaps even more rewarding, given that he made up fifteen places during the race. He could only manage twenty-first on the grid after struggling in the wet qualifying; however, his pace in the dry was evident Sunday afternoon. Günther flew through the field on what was a dry track for the race, to claim sixth at his home race as well as the fastest lap.
So not only did he claim his first podium and his first points of the season, Günther managed a double-points finish at his home E-Prix, to boost his confidence for the remainder of the season.
“This has been a good weekend for us as a team, and I’m really happy with how my race unfolded today,” the German said on Sunday. “Going from the last row of the grid to sixth, with the fastest lap, feels amazing, and most importantly, it meant we could bring home a lot of points in the World Championship. Momentum is incredibly important in Formula E, there are a lot of races to go, and we can move forward with this result ahead of our home race in Monaco.”
“We took some positive steps forwards” – Edoardo Mortara
On the other side of the Maserati garage, it was another tough weekend for Edoardo Mortara, who suffered yet another retirement. Saturday was Mortara’s strongest day in Berlin, with the Swiss driver having finished ninth after qualifying eleventh, gaining him two more points for his struggling tally. He arguably had the potential to finish much higher than ninth after he worked his way rapidly from eleventh to first by Lap Eleven, before falling towards the bottom of the top ten.
Mortara struggled with his car’s balance in the second half of the race which impacted his top five hopes, with him having admitted after the race that it meant he “couldn’t keep up my pace”.
“That was an action-packed race, with a lot of racing, a lot of overtaking, and a lot of moves,” Mortara said on Saturday. “Because Berlin is so energy intensive, and because of the benefit of the slipstream, no one really wanted to lead at the start of the race, and this gave us a very special opportunity to come back. I was able to pass some drivers and took the lead myself, but in the second part of the race I started to struggle with the balance, and this meant that I couldn’t keep up my pace.
“It’s nice to be back in the top 10, and I’m proud of everyone in the team to get onto the podium. After a tough start to the season, it’s what they deserve. We have another race tomorrow, and as always, the goal is to do better.”
Sunday was significantly more challenging for the Maserati driver after he too struggled in the wet conditions, with sixteenth place having been all he could manage in qualifying. He again showed good pace in the opening stages of Sunday’s race, though, with Mortara having swiftly made his way into the top ten. His race was effectively over, though, after having to pit for a new front wing, due to hitting a car in front of him which slowed much more than usual, something which saw several drivers pit for a new front wing.
Maserati ultimately retired Mortara’s car with him having fallen to last, meaning he suffered his fourth retirement of the year. Mortara was understandably frustrated with what happened during the race after believing that “a good result was on the cards”, something which is arguably true given his impressive pace in the dry all weekend.
“At the start of the day I struggled quite a bit with understeer which put us towards the back in qualifying, but the team put together an intelligent strategy which put us in the mix at the start. I was under-consuming and made it into the top ten, but on lap 16, the guys in front of me slowed down really quickly and I picked up front wing damage. There wasn’t anywhere for me to go. It’s frustrating, because I think a good result was on the cards, but we took some positive steps forwards this weekend.”