Maximilian Guenther’s clinically opportunistic victory in yesterday’s first New York City E-Prix served as an appropriate reminder to the Formula E paddock of his notable victory strike rate.
His fractured first season at a chaotic Dragon in the 2018-19 season tested even the famously placidly unflappable Guenther’s patience.
Yet he came through that bruising experience with enough potential for BMW Andretti to give him a chance alongside Alexander Sims for the following season.
That yielded two victories ensuring he was the only driver bar champion Antonio Felix da Costa to take more than a single victory in the pandemic affected campaign.
Since the beginning of his second season with the complexly tri-headed domiciled Anglo/German/American squad, Guenther has shown consistent speed but inconsistent execution of races from some good qualifying positions.
That raised a few nagging questions as the silly season of team and driver negotiations for next season began.
But Guenther largely dispelled those whispers yesterday with a sumptuously executed race in which he deftly picked Nick Cassidy and Jean-Eric Vergne’s pockets to take his third E-Prix win in just 18 months.
The way he achieved it impressed his team principal Roger Griffiths who told The Race that Guenther was “just confident from the very first lap of practice” and that “just carried through quantifying and into the race itself.”
This confidence bred performance which in turn produced a result that couldn’t have come at a better time for Formula E’s own smiling assassin.
Andretti is right now in the process of subtly ‘de-BMW-ing’ itself in readiness to announce its plans for the 2022 season. The irony of course is that it will still use the BMW iFE.21 car but will enter them under the Andretti name.
Fanciful stories of an Andretti and McLaren hook-up are just that. But the teams’ plans are forming and with it will come decisions on who they will have in the cockpits next year.
Could it just be that Guenther’s present form and the quick adaptation of Jake Dennis to Formula E could create some headaches for the team in the coming weeks?
The Race understands that while all avenues are still open, it is likely that at least one of Guenther or Dennis will stay with the team.
That though is all for the near future. For the present, the 25-year-old from Oberstdorf in the Bavarian Alps is peaking nicely.
“We don’t want to put pressure on him, we just want to say to him is ‘the best thing you can do is just demonstrate on the racetrack, which is your office, that you’ve got the pace and that you can deliver the results when you need to,’ Griffiths told The Race.
“He did exactly what we asked him today.
“Sometimes when he comes to race weekends, he just didn’t have that swagger but today he was just the Max we’ve always wanted to see and thought we had.
“But it hasn’t necessarily come through every time this season.”
Both Guenther and Dennis have evidenced that when a race-winning opportunity arrives they can deliver irrefutable results. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, other drivers on the grid haven’t been able to achieve such clear-cut opportunities from similarly strong positions this season.
The manner in which Guenther and the BMW Andretti squad was able to efficiently control energy yesterday was impressive. The opportunistic move on Cassidy and Vergne was one thing but to get into that position to able to take advantage was quite another.
“He was generally under consuming for much of the race and I think he had a car that was handling really well,” understated Griffiths.
“This allowed him to save a bit of energy, which was sort of cancelled what we struggled a little bit within Puebla where the car wasn’t as good as it was here today.
“But he (Guenther) made the most of it and really executed it all so well.”
With both Guenther and team-mate Dennis in group two for today’s race, BMW Andretti should have a very good chance to get both its drivers in to superpole.
Should Guenther reprise his Saturday heroics then he would be thrust into the championship reckoning, something which would seem fanciful just 24 hours ago.
It would be a significant statement of intent right now. Especially when futures and opportunities are at stake in a championship where consistent results are almost as rare as going from third place to the lead in one fell swoop.