"Lost rear axle, race over" - Max Günther throws away chance of victory and receives penalty for Sao Paulo
It could have been Maximilian Günther's day. Alongside the two ABT drivers, the German was the only Formula E driver still without points to travel to the Cape Town E-Prix. After already showing off in qualifying by reaching the final, the 25-year-old was also in a promising position for victory in the race. Then Günther threw away his rare chance carelessly..
For a long time, Günther had not been able to compete in the top group of a Formula E race. His last victory with BMW at the New York City E-Prix 2021 is already about 1.5 years ago. He also had a very poor start to his career with Maserati, even though his form has recently shown a slight upward trend. In South Africa, it looked as if the tide was turning.
Günther initially prevailed in qualifying in fourth place in the group stage and was subsequently able to defeat Rene Rast and also Mitch Evans in the duels. Only in the final against Sacha Fenestraz did he admit defeat, narrowly missing out on his first world championship points. Nevertheless, a good starting position for the race.
Despite a poor start, Günther defended himself stoutly against Nick Cassidy. When the first full-course yellow was called after an accident, he braked a tad too late, which meant he initially took the lead. However, Günther later received a drive-through penalty for the action, which was converted into a demotion of three grid positions in the next race. The German also received two penalty points.
All this played no role at all for Cape Town, however. Because on lap 21, Günther made a momentous driving error while braking before turn 1. He touched the wall, broke his suspension and had to retire from the race.
Günther: "Extremely disappointing, that's for sure".
"I locked up in turn 1 and lost the rear axle. I touched the wall, breaking my rear suspension. Then the race was over," was the short and concise description of the accident of Günther to 'e-Formel.de'. He had already vented his frustration on the team radio shortly after the crash and cursed loudly - a rare and thus remarkable scene for the otherwise very sober Günther. The pain understandably runs deep.
"That's extremely disappointing, of course," he admits. "In general, I had a very positive weekend: good pace in free practice, strong qualifying with the first row of the grid. I then also led the race, being in the top 3 the whole time. There are many positive things about this weekend, but also areas we continue to work on to improve the package. We need to put today behind us as quickly as possible."
Günther thus departs Cape Town not only with a lost race, but also with a missed opportunity to make up for a poor debut with his new employer, Maserati. Especially since he could have made up for teammate Edo Mortara's next disaster weekend.
First accident, then technical defect for Mortara
The Swiss had already wrecked his Maserati in qualifying at turn 9 for the second time this season. His team got the car fixed in time for the race start, but the E-Prix was not to last long for Mortara either: he started from the pit lane, but had to park his just-recovered Maserati Tipo Folgore again on lap 1 - this time with a "technical problem" not further defined by the team.
Video: Crash of Edoardo Mortara & Sam Bird in Cape Town qualifying
"It was a very disappointing and frustrating weekend, especially after we had such good pace in practice," Mortara laments. "The team did a great job to rebuild my car after qualifying in time for the race. They are the real heroes today and deserved much more."
After five races of the season, it really is about time for the reigning runner-up team to get back on track. With a measly three points, the Monaco-Italian squad sits second-to-last in the world team championship - while DS Penske, with an identical drive, stands at 61 points and two podiums.
The next opportunity will come for Maserati MSG Racing in exactly one month's time at the Sao Paulo E-Prix. "The start of Season 9 has not been the easiest for us. We have a bit of time before Brazil and now we need to hit the reset button," said team principal James Rossiter.