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Formula E

The divebomb that finally ended painful Maserati Formula E wait

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The relief in the Maserati pit on Saturday when Maximilian Guenther crossed the finish line in third place to secure the Trident’s first single-seater podium position since 1957 was animated.

It was also tinged with fervour after his calculated last-corner divebomb on Sebastien Buemi to snatch a podium that had looked unlikely at various stages of the race. Captured on camera in the moment were team principal James Rossiter, engineering head Jeremy Colancon and team manager Gauthier Boutin, as they hyperventilated their way through the last few metres of the race.

That perfectly encapsulated a dramatic and emotionally charged start to the season for Maserati, which had seen a meagre three points collated from the first six races of the 2023 campaign.

Guenther improved that with his 24 and Mortara contributed two last weekend in Berlin. It was the shot in the arm the team craved, and while it really should have been a bit more, the overriding feeling was one of sheer liberation.

“It’s a big relief,” Guenther told The Race.

“I’m really proud about this race [Saturday] because, already in the past weekends, we’ve been saying we’re moving in the good direction, but we didn’t score the points.

“The race has been extremely difficult, you had to go a lot by your instinct to position yourself smart. It was a lot about energy but as well track position and we did this really well. In the end to score the podium is a fantastic result for us today.”

Maserati’s race was not without heart-stopping moments beyond the last-corner nerves. Guenther and Mortara were racing in close proximity to each other and at one stage looked likely to add to the litany of destructive races Maserati had endured in 2023.

Maximilian Guenther Maserati Formula E Berlin

Guenther took multiple hits from several drivers, including a slight one from Mortara.

“I was [worried about damage], of my front wing especially,” Guenther added.

“I lost a part, I think an endplate, and the top part of the wing so I was afraid the wing was loose maybe, but it seemed stable.

“I got some understeer which affected me a bit, but we could keep going which was important and it wasn’t so bad.”

There was some compromising interweaving between the two blue cars and that didn’t amuse Guenther or the team too much.

“We need to review this after the race. I don’t go so much into detail right now but I wasn’t entirely happy during the race,” admitted Guenther.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Edo so I’m sure there won’t be any hard feelings but we need to speak for the future.

“We’re both competitors. We’ll speak about it internally, so not too much here to comment on at the moment.”

Naturally the TV cameras panned to the garage to see the raw look of possible impending doom. It wasn’t lost on Rossiter what the viewers saw.

“I believe that there was some commentary of me on the television, from what I’ve seen of my WhatsApp messages, along the lines of what my opinion was at that moment,” joked Rossiter.

“It was rather colourful, not what we were looking for at the time, but I think that I have to give credit to Max. He stuck to his game plan and the game plan in the beginning was to be efficient regardless of what was going on around you.

“He got bullied all the way back, from leading the race, all the way back to ninth. But he stayed efficient and the others were spending their energy to overtake him, to fight, to create chaos, and Max stayed calm. Credit to him for doing that.”

How Guenther’s last-corner move happened

Maximilian Guenther Maserati Formula E Berlin

“It started a few laps before, or many laps before,” Guenther told The Race.

“I was down on energy compared to the three Jaguars in front of me. In the slipstream I tried to recover, at one point with a few laps to go the team told me ‘you’re back on energy, you’re pretty much the same as them’ so I knew, ‘OK, there might be a chance here’.

“I saw them fighting in the last few laps, especially Sam [Bird] and Seb, and I saw my energy and I could imagine how much they had to spend for these overtakes.

“So, then I was just trying to position myself as best as possible behind Seb. Going into Turn 9, I saw him defend the inside to Turn 10 so I knew it was critical for him; he coasted very early.

“I saw my steering wheel and I saw there was some juice left so that’s why I sent it to the outside. I went a bit wide so we exited right beside each other and then it was a bit of a drag race to the line.”

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