25 Nov 19

Guenther claims 'there was no turning back' on penalty-incurring overtake

Despite clinching his maiden podium in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, Max Guenther was scalded by a post-race penalty that saw him drop off the podium, while promoting Mercedes-Benz EQ's Vandoorne to second. After the race, we caught up with the German driver on why 'there was no turning back'. 

For BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver Maximilian Guenther, the 2019 SAUDIA Diriyah E-Prix will be one to remember but not for the right reasons. After the new BMW driver fought his way into the top three, claiming his maiden podium in the series, the German driver was knocked off the podium after a post-race decision from the FIA ruled his overtake unlawful, handed him a time penalty and relegating him to 11th overall. 

“Naturally, it is tough to be awarded a penalty like that retrospectively," said Guenther. "The situation at the restart after the safety car period was unclear and it was frantic."

"Stoffel [Vandoorne] obviously made a quick decision to drive into the attack zone, which saw me come into contact with him slightly and damage the front of my car.

"Also, I was already alongside him at that point, and from my perspective there was no turning back. The action was unfortunate and I had hoped that it would be okay.

"The race officials saw things differently. I have to accept this decision. What remains is the fact that I drove a strong race and have the speed to finish on the podium.

"I will build on this as the season progresses. Congratulations to Alexander on his win. It’s a huge success for the team. Many thanks to everyone who made this strong performance possible – both here at the track and at BMW in Munich.”

After a season behind the wheel with Geox Dragon, the 22 year old scored a drive with the BMW works team ahead of the current 2019/20 season. Topping the timesheets during pre-season testing in Valencia, Guenther was set to make an impact in the Saudi season opener. 

“Congratulations to Maximilian, who can be proud of his performance, despite the penalty. He drove a perfect race, but then overtook slightly too early," said BMW Group Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. 

"After our experience from last season, we know that it’s now all about confirming our performance in the coming races. But today I was simply proud as I followed the performance of our team."

With his teammate Alex Sims securing Pole in both races before converting it to a win in the final race in Diriyah, the BWM squad had much to be celebrating. Had Guether not been handed the penalty, the German powerhouse would have been also celebrating its first one-two. 

But, with the best part of a season ahead, the battle is far from finished. Proving it's pace in Saudi was key but now the manufacturer must keep a clean sheet if it's to secure it's first championship title.