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Was 2023 Max Günther's Breakthrough Formula E Season?

Written by Olivia Hicks, Edited by Meghana Sree

Max Guenther on the podium at Rome, one of his many great results in 2023; Image credit - Danilo Di Giovanni/Getty Images

Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis won the 2023 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship and Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy dominated the podium with eight top-three finishes, but a third driver broke through low expectations for a standout season.

Maximilian Günther, the twenty-six-year-old driver for Maserati MSG Racing, left a blue streak on the 2023 Formula E season.

Günther’s Formula E career has swung between season-long highs and lows since his 2018-2019 debut, with a valley of uncharacteristically poor performances in 2021-2022. The German driver managed to miss the podium in his first year, with two fifth place finishes and two Super Pole knockout rounds — where the final five drivers compete for starting position. The collection of accomplishments marked a strong inaugural season.

He seemed to progress rapidly in the subsequent season as he won in both Chile and in his home country, as the youngest driver to place first in the series. A second place finish in Marrakesh sealed his potential.

In the seventh season, he only managed 16th place in the championship. Although the BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver failed to fight near the front — or even the middle — of the championship, his average finishing position thinly outshined his previous year. The win in New York and fifth-place leaderboard standing in both Monaco and Rome helped tip Günther’s average finishing position across the checkered flag to 13th place.

His performance dropped off in the eighth running of the all-electric series. As Günther switched seats to Nissan E.Dams, his budding promise petered out. The new car proved to struggle under the former Formula 2 driver, careening over the finish line with an eighth-place best finish. 2022 marked his lowest best position finish in his Formula E career.

But 2023 solidified the German’s abilities under pressure.

A new car, a new team, and a new season flipped Günther’s luck and performance on its head. By the last race of 2023, Günther finished seventh in the championship standings ahead of his more experienced teammate, Edoardo Mortara, and averaged a 10.9 place finish. Leading the pack for 40 laps, he ranked within the top five for most laps led this year.

“I think if you [look at] our season, we are doing really well,” Günther said following the Hankook Rome E-Prix.

The season also brought a series of personal bests for the Maserati MSG Racing driver. Four podiums and a killer weekend in Jakarta — leading all three free practice sessions, qualifying on pole for both races, and standing on the top podium step in the second of the doubleheader races — marked a new high for Günther. The 11th race included one of the top-rated overtakes of the season, in a tight wheel-to-wheel battle where Günther sped ahead of Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans.

While Günther may be slower than his rivals and teammate at top speed, his race control and craft make up for the deficit. In Jakarta, his steady hands and Attack Mode strategy allowed for a dominant gap that hadn’t been seen since the beginning of the season.

The #7 racing driver’s stellar season set Maserati on the path to podiums after an invisible stint in the racing world. Günther’s win in Jakarta secured the team’s first P1 standing in a single-seater world championship series since 1957.

Despite his standout performances this year, Günther continues to lack consistency. The season ended on a low note with 12th and 14th place positions in London and raking up three DNFs for the season — matching his retirement count for Season seven, and scraping by four from the dismal previous season.

Basking in the afterglow of Jakarta, he seemed realistic about the GEN3 car’s strengths and weaknesses on the rest of the season’s tracks.

In the media pen, Günther said: “Not every track [will] we be as competitive as here, but clearly we are going in the right direction.”

Günther’s future in Formula E holds promise, but his five-year track record begs the question: Is this just a fluke first-rate year — similar to Season six — or does Maserati have a top-three contender in its hands?

With just a single-year contract at Maserati, Günther’s 2024 season remains up for grabs. The Italian team, however, will shock fans of the electric motorsport series, if it fumbles the newest driver with star-potential.


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