Maximilian Günther and Maserati MSG Racing are “ready for the fight” in Formula E season 10, with the grand hope being that they can continue their “great turnaround” which started mid-season nine.
Günther heads into the sport’s 10th campaign on the back of quite a remarkable season, which saw his year come to life in Berlin in some style. Günther and Maserati won’t hide the fact that season nine didn’t start as expected, to the extent that the driver admits the team were “nowhere”.
After topping almost every session in testing ahead of the first Gen3 season, Günther and the Monte-Carlo-based squad endured about 10 years’ worth of bad luck in the space of a few races. Maserati massively struggled for pace in Mexico City, before Günther was unable to start the opening race in Diriyah following a heavy crash in qualifying.
He started to show strong pace in Hyderabad, before he was robbed of a potential podium after being caught up in Sam Bird taking out Mitch Evans. Günther was fighting for a podium again in Cape Town, where he unfortunately clipped a wall which led to an unfortunate retirement. São Paulo was then another event not to write home about.
After São Paulo, it almost seemed like the sooner the season finished the better for Günther and Maserati, as they just couldn’t escape what was becoming an endless rut of bad luck. However, as mentioned, this all changed in Berlin.
Berlin saw Günther not only score his first points of the season but also marked his first podium of 2023, thanks to a last corner overtake on Sébastian Buemi. It also represented Maserati’s first top-three in Formula E. With the exception of Monaco, everything Günther touched just seemed to turn to gold from his home race onwards, most notably, in Jakarta.
Günther topped every single session in the Jakarta double-header bar one, the opening race. Two pole positions, a third-place finish and a race win saw him crowned the ‘King of Jakarta’, and rightly so. In a hugely symbolic moment, his Jakarta win marked Maserati’s first in single-seater racing since 1952.
Things only got better for the Italian manufacturer in Rome, where Günther secured his fourth rostrum of the year at Maserati’s home event. He ended the season seventh in the Drivers’ Championship, an unbelievable achievement given that he failed to score a point in the opening six rounds.
Maserati’s big hope was to continue their upward trajectory in Valencia three weeks ago in testing, something which they certainly did. Günther set the fifth-quickest lap during the week of testing and completed a healthy 245 laps, gathering the team substantial data.
Reflecting on the test, Günther is “really pleased” with how it went and, most importantly, how the team’s package “feels better compared to last season”.
“Yeah, I think really pleased, actually,” Günther told Motorsport Week.
“I think our approach to Valencia has been really good because in the end, we went there with our programme. We wanted to learn as much as we can for the race season. And I really feel our package feels better compared to last year.
“We made good steps. We will see if it was enough. We will see this in Mexico and in the first races. But I really feel we addressed the good things after season nine to step up our level. And, yeah, as I said, I felt good in the car.
“In Valencia, the focus was clearly not on lap times and still we were quite decent over the whole week. So that’s still a good sign, even though you focus on other things. So, yeah, I think me, the whole team, everybody was happy with how the week went.”
As Maserati discovered last season, being quick in testing doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be at the top when racing gets underway. In fact, the Italians arguably know this better than anyone else in the paddock, because of how season nine started for them.
In many ways, this could work hugely in their favour, as they’ve learnt to take things one step at a time. There is a real buzz amongst the team and a genuine sense of belief that season 10 could be “even stronger” than how they ended season nine, with Günther having stressed that himself and the entire team “trust each other blindly”.
The 26-year-old even admitted that the recent test ahead of season 10 was more productive than the test ahead of season nine where, as mentioned, Günther was fastest in almost every session.
“I definitely think, yes, because obviously you mentioned season nine. The test was very good and we felt it was a good test, but then we went to the first few races and we were absolutely nowhere,” admitted Günther.
“So, it was a big struggle to start the season with, but then, obviously, we made this great turnaround of our season and we learned a lot. And, yeah, I think with our package, it already came together very nicely in season nine.
“As I mentioned to you, the goal is to make it even stronger in season 10. So that’s why yes, definitely, I think the test was better in season 10. As I said, the goal was not to be necessarily the fastest, but to learn as much as we can.
“And the feeling in the car was really good. It’s now one year that I’m working with the team, with my engineers, with everybody, and it’s just a nice group and we trust each other blindly. The communication is spot on.
“There are so many details that, obviously, in an operation they need to fit perfectly if you want to fight at the very top, and I really feel where we want to be.”
Even during the difficult opening rounds of season nine, Günther possessed excellent pace at times. Despite having not scored points last year until almost the halfway point, he still ended the 2023 campaign on the same number of podiums as Pascal Wehrlein, who led the Drivers’ Championship for three months.
If Günther and Maserati hadn’t endured their disappointing start to 2023, then who knows where the German would’ve finished in the standings, given that, from Berlin onwards, he was regularly battling the Porsches and the Jaguars.
Should the Oberstdorf-born driver start season 10 how he performed in the second half of season nine, then there really is every chance that Günther could be an underdog for the title.
Fighting for the championship and battling the leading teams is “exactly” what Maserati and Günther are working towards, with his ultimate goal being to get amongst the title fight.
He’s certain that Maserati are in a “much better place” compared to 12 months ago and that, crucially, himself and the team “are ready for the fight” to perhaps shock the Formula E world.
“For sure, we are working for exactly this,” Günther agreed. “I mean, at the end, I said in the past, my goal is to fight for championships in Formula E and I feel now this year we’re in a much better place compared to one year ago.
“And I’m still young, actually, I think still one of the younger guys on the grid, but as well, I have a lot of experience in Formula E. I think it’s a good combination and yeah, we are ready for the fight for sure.”