Tales from the paddock – Maximilian Günther: “The objective is to win the Macau Grand Prix”

DTM Young Driver Test at the Lausitzring this week and then on to the street circuit of Macau: Mercedes test and substitute driver Maximilian Günther talks about the last two big dates in this year’s diary

  • This is what happened: Results & facts
  • News from the Mercedes-AMG motorsport teams
  • Three questions for Maximilian Günther
  • This week’s important dates and events

This is what happened: Weekend’s results & facts

  • Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton records his 62nd Formula 1 victory in the United States Grand Prix at Austin
  • Formula 1: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport wrap up the 2017 F1 constructors’ championship with three races still to go
  • VLN: Maro Engel, Hubert Haupt and Erik Johansson in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 finish second on the Nordschleife

News snippets

Stat-Attack – USA: Austin has always been worth the round trip for Lewis Hamilton in recent years. Last weekend, Lewis registered win number five at the Circuit of the Americas which was hosting Formula 1 for the sixth time. It was the 62nd Grand Prix victory of his career and the ninth this season. In the process, Lewis set a new absolute lap record with his pole qualifying time of 1:33.108. He also set a new record for front row starts, namely 117. With three races to go, Lewis surpasses all the other drivers this season in terms of wins (9), pole positions (11), fastest laps (7), podium finishes (12), leading laps (511) and laps contested (999). But he still has one target left – a fourth world championship title…

#4TheTeam: Job done! The Silver Arrows secured their fourth consecutive Constructors’ World Championship in the USA. Having now scored 575 points and established a 147-point lead over Ferrari, the team can no longer be caught in the final three races of the season. Mercedes join McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull as one of only four teams to have won the Formula 1 Constructors’ World Championship four times in a row. For the first time in the history of the sport, the title defence was successful despite a major change in the regulations. The Silver Arrows are way out ahead of the other teams contesting this year’s title in numbers of victories (11), pole positions (9), fastest laps (8), podium appearances (22) and leading laps (646). And here is another impressive statistic: in the 172 Grand Prix races since 2008, there has always been at least one Mercedes-Benz-powered car finishing in the points. This is the second-longest run of its kind in the history of Formula 1, though there is still some way to go before the absolute record of 228 races is equalled.

Third successive podium finish to round off the 2017 VLN season: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport once again celebrated a Top Three finish in the ninth and final race of the 2017 VLN Endurance Championship contested at the Nürburgring. Two weeks after their P2 in the eighth round of the season, the trio of Hubert Haupt (GER), Erik Johansson (SWE) and Mercedes-AMG brand ambassador Maro Engel (GER) once again took second place, this time in the grand finale on the legendary Nordschleife. The crew of the number 7 Mercedes-AMG GT3 sporting the black and yellow livery of BLACK FALCON were once again on fine form, mounting a charge through the field, just as they had done on their previous outing in the 42nd DMV Münsterlandpokal.

Steady progress: Starting from ninth on the grid, Haupt mastered the changeable track conditions to move up to sixth before he had even reached the NGK chicane, and by the end of the first lap he was in fourth. An early change to slicks paid off, allowing Haupt to hand over to Engel in the lead. In the further course of the four-hour race, the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Team was always either in the lead or within striking distance. Johansson drove the final stint, but a short refuelling stop on the penultimate lap meant that the trio had to be content with P2 in the general classification. But victory in the SP9 class had never been in doubt.

Valuable findings: In the meantime, the three Mercedes-AMG test cars entered by Uwe Alzen Automotive, HTP Motorsport and BLACK FALCON successfully continued the test and development work on the Mercedes-AMG GT4. There is a saying in German: “Jeder lobt, was Nürburgring erprobt” (If it can perform on the Nürburgring, it can perform anywhere). With that in mind, the three teams supported by Mercedes-AMG works drivers Thomas Jäger (GER), Maximilian Götz (GER) and Adam Christodoulou (GBR) gained important insights to further advance the development of the new GT4 racing car from Affalterbach.

Championship runners-up in Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup: Lee Mowle and Phil Keen (both GBR) rounded off their season with an appearance on the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup podium. In the final race of the campaign in Portimao, the two Brits driving the number 7 Mercedes-AMG GT3 took second place in the GT3 class. This was enough for Mowle to finish as runner-up in the championship itself. RAM Racing with the driver pairing of Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR) and Remon Leonard Vos (NED) at the wheel of the number 5 Mercedes-AMG GT3 came fifth in the race.

A winning end to the season: In the grand finale of the 2017 GT & Prototype Challenge at Assen (Netherlands), the father-son duo of Henk and Daniel de Jong (both NED) driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 celebrated victory in the second of the two 60-minute races. In Race 1, the local favourites were runners-up in the SGT class (fifth in the general classification).

Three questions for Maximilian Günther

Max, your first DTM Young Driver Test was almost a year ago in Jerez. What has been going on in your life since then?

Maximilian Günther: Since the beginning of this season, I’ve been the official test and substitute driver to the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team. I’ve also been contesting my second season in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship as a member of the Prema squad. For a long time, I was in contention for the title. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t to be, and I finished third as the highest-placed Mercedes and Prema driver. Obviously, I had set out to win the title. But at least I did my best. Overall, it has been a good year with several major successes, including my win in the Grand Prix de Pau. On some of the DTM weekends, I drove the Mercedes race taxi, which was also great.

On the subject of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM race taxi, tell us what it was like to drive it.

Maximilian Günther: That was a cool experience! You are not pushing as much as in a real test, but the reactions of my passengers were amusing and totally different. I always got very positive feedback, and the people had a lot of fun. Driving the race taxi was really great – not the sort of thing you do every day as professional racing driver.

After the Young Driver Test, you go into the winter – always a problematic period. How will you spend the next weeks and months?

Maximilian Günther: After the DTM Young Driver Test, I’ll begin making my preparations for the Macau Grand Prix in China. The FIA F3 World Cup is an absolute highlight at the end of the year, and I would like to round off the season with a positive outcome. The objective is to win the Grand Prix. I know that there will be a lot of different factors in play. After Macau, we’ll see if there are any more test drives in prospect this year.

Upcoming events & dates

  • Thursday 26/10/2017: F1: Mexican GP – Medien-Tag
  • Friday 27/10/2017: F1: Mexican GP – Practice 1 & 2
  • Saturday 28/10/2017: F1: Mexican GP – Practice 3 & Qualifying
  • Sunday 29/10/2017 F1: Mexican GP – Race