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Max Günther celebrating his win for Maserati at the Jakarta E-Prix

Formula E: How Günther ended a 66-year wait for Maserati

After a tricky start to the season, Maserati's dominance in Jakarta was almost surprising

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Jakarta saw Maserati secure their first win in six decades. The journey to the top step of the podium was a long one.

The Maserati Formula E cars on track at Jakarta
Max Günther dominated the Jakarta double-header almost entirely. (Image credit: Maserati MSG Racing)

When Maserati announced in January last year that they would be joining Formula E for the 2023 season, it signalled the Italian manufacturer’s first return to single-seater racing in over six decades. When Max Günther crossed the finish line in Jakarta, it brought to an end a 66-year wait for a victory in a single-seater world championship. No driver had won for Maserati since Juan Manuel Fangio’s storied win at the Nurburgring in 1957.

Maserati’s first victory in 66 years was won in excellent fashion. Max Günther had been utterly dominant the entire weekend. He topped the timesheets in all three practice sessions and claimed pole position on both Saturday and Sunday. Though outpaced by the Porsche powertrain in Saturday’s race, Günther was still able to secure a third-place finish.

By the time Sunday rolled around, it seemed like winning the race was merely a formality. It was the only task left on Günther’s Jakarta to-do list.

It was the most dominant display we’ve seen from a Formula E driver all season. Whilst championship leader Pascal Wehrlein secured back-to-back wins in Diriyah at the start of the season, the Porsche driver didn’t dominate the race weekend with the same totality as Günther.

Casting our minds back to the early stages of the season, it’s almost surprising that Maserati is now celebrating its first Formula E race win.

Tricky beginnings

Maserati’s Formula E debut was marred by point-less finishes — and this was when the Maserati drivers actually made it to the end of the race. The team has almost many DNFs as it does points-finishes.

How, then, have Maserati gone on to take their first win in 66 years? According to Max Günther: a lot of hard work.

“For us, the start of the season has been extremely difficult,” Günther told members of the press. “I think especially the first rounds with Mexico and Diriyah, we were simply not competitive and struggled for different reasons.”

Max Günther in Diriyah
Günther suffered both a DNS and a DNF in the first half of the season. (Image credit: Maserati MSG Racing)

The uncompetitive nature of the Maserati powertrain rendered the start of the season difficult for Günther. “Despite big ambitions together with Maserati it was really not an easy time, as you can imagine,” shared the German driver. 

A mixture of the occasional mistakes, a lack of pace, and downright misfortune meant that Maserati’s start to the season was tough. A handful of points from Edoardo Mortara in Rounds 3 and 4 briefly suggested an improvement of form for the team. But these points-finishes were swiftly succeeded by a double DNF in Round 5 and a continued lack of points in Round 6.

Overcoming adversity

The real turning point for Maserati was in Berlin. It was here, according to Günther, that the team’s momentum markedly changed. After so long without results, Max Günther left the German capital with a P3 finish and a fastest lap under his belt.

“Berlin was the obvious one with the podium,” said Günther. “Our package was coming together better and better and we had some good tests in between the races.” He added:

“Really from Berlin onwards I think, not only in qualifying but also in the race, we started to be really competitive and I felt really good in the car.”

The initial change in momentum began back in India, said Günther. “I would say from India onwards, we started to make the car fast and we were good on one lap. We’ve shown this then for a few weekends that we can go for the duels and for a front row like in Cape Town,” commented the German driver.

It was a competitive, fighting spirit that kept the team going through the early part of the season. “The team has been working so hard despite not scoring any results,” Günther said. He added:

“I enjoy this work that we’ve been putting in together. I think this common spirit and mindset in the team is great. Now we get the reward for this.”

“As I mentioned, I think we made really good steps in some of the tests this season. Now we are in the fight for really good positions.”

Pressure makes diamonds

Max Günther shared that Jakarta was one of his most emotional wins, second only to his first Formula E victory.

“I think for sure the first one was very special,” shared the Maserati driver, “but then probably straight after, I would say it’s Jakarta because you know it has been almost two years for me that I had to wait for a win after New York. And especially after the last season, which really has not been an easy one for me, with an uncompetitive package.” 

Max Günther celebrates his win in New York 2021
Günther’s last win was with BMW i Andretti Motorsport back in 2021. (Image credit: BMW Group)

“I’m really proud of how I went through all these low moments. I keep working on myself, on my own development as a person, as a sportsman.” He added:

“I knew, even without the results, that I’m a better version of myself already.”

“To complete all this with good results is fantastic. And that’s why for me it’s been a very proud moment for me on Sunday.”

Maserati’s next move

Only five rounds remain of season 9 of the Formula E championship. Despite Maserati’s sudden uptick in performance, Max Günther rates the team’s chances in the championship battle as “low”.

“I think we started too late to score these points, but it was not our main objective in this season,” Günther said. “After this start we said, okay, we really want to use this season to get in good shape, to build up a strong performance together as a team. For sure, it’s good to be in a decent position in the championship, and I think as well there is potential to climb a bit higher. How high? It doesn’t only depend on us, it depends on other people as well.”

He continued, “I think we’ve got five races now, with three tracks that are quite different to each other. What we want to do is to prove and to see if we can make our car competitive on all these three circuits, and it will be a big challenge.

“If we do that, and if we have some good races, for sure we will not give up until the very end.”

Featured Image Credit: LAT Images / Formula E Media Bank

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