Maximilian Günther is a German-Austrian racing driver currently competing in Formula E for Nissan e.dams. Günther achieved his first win in Formula E at the 2020 Santiago E-Prix and became youngest driver to win Formula E race. © Dan-Bathie
“Formula E is about how well you can manage your energy throughout the race, how much energy you can save compared to your rivals.”
How did you first start racing and become a Formula E driver?
(Maximilian Günther) I started karting when I was six years old and immediately got a passion for driving cars. I enjoyed it, and after a few months, I began racing and started to have success. When I was 13 years old, I drove for BMW and went on to compete in F4, F3 and F2. In 2018 when racing in F2, I was also the reserve driver for Penske in Formula E. I was doing all the development work for the Gen 2 cars, and it became my intention and my goal to become a full-time Formula E driver. I achieved this and started racing in Season 5 (2018/19). This is now my fourth season as a full-time Formula E driver.
What is the biggest difference between driving in a Formula 2 car and Formula E car?
(MG) There are quite a few differences between Formula 2 and Formula E cars. Formula 2 cars have lots of downforce and grip from the slick tires and a combustion engine with around 600 horsepower. The cars are very similar to Formula 1 cars. A Formula E car is unique and very complex to drive because the tires have a lot less grip. It is a tire you can race in both wet and dry conditions, meaning you have a asmall amount of downforce. The engine is electric, so the most significant difference is the sound from the car; it’s a very quiet, futuristic noise. These cars are lots of fun to drive – the torque you get, especially when accelerating, is unbelievable because you’ve got so much power available right from the start. You have many things to set up in qualifying and the race, such as the electronics and software, which sets the series apart from anything else. You can change most things on your steering wheel with your engineers, and there is more freedom with the software – this is where you can make the difference. I think it’s a fantastic Championship; you have all the development for road cars and the new EVs, so being part of this is terrific.
What is the most important part for a driver in Formula E?
(MG) There are quite a few! You must adapt very quickly to each track; the new grip conditions constantly change from session to session. The cars don’t allow for mistakes; any minor errors could result in you hitting a wall which could sacrifice your race weekend. You have to be very technical and analytical because you have to understand the car, which is very complex, but also be able to feed this back to the team so they can make suitable adjustments on the setup and the software side. You must be as efficient as possible in this series and fight against other people. It’s a different experience from other formats, but I enjoy it.
Why is battery management so important?
(MG) The battery or energy management in Formula E is essential as it determines the race. Formula E is about how well you can manage your energy throughout the race, how efficient you can be, and how much energy you can save compared to your rivals. Energy management creates lots of overtaking opportunities. It is key in this Championship; you train in the simulator with your engineers and prepare for very different scenarios. Then you must put it all together and adapt to real-life situations on race day. It’s always different. You can prepare as much as possible, but it still comes down to you in the car on race day. Teamwork plays an important role here; you must communicate well with the engineers and mechanics. It is what makes Formula E super unique and exciting.
Most memorable moment during racing?
(MG) I would say my first Formula E win in Santiago in 2020 was an extraordinary moment as I became the youngest Formula E winner. I had a good qualifying, getting a place on the front row. It turned out to be a highly complex race with lots of heat and battery management needed. It was a big fight in the top three; I battled through and won the race with a move in the last lap. The emotions you go through when you win a race are incredible. You work all your life for these moments, so to become a professional racing driver and to win a race in a World Championship like Formula E is such a big career highlight.
“You have to be super precise driving these cars around street circuits, these types of tracks are very special and this is key in Formula E.”