Müller upped the ante in the closing stages of the season | DTM
2018-12-25 11:15:00

Müller upped the ante in the closing stages of the season

Müller upped the ante in the closing stages of the season

The Swiss feels really good in the mountains. Nico Müller was born in Thun, the gate to the Bernese Oberland. The Audi driver regularly used to shine in the DTM meetings at Spielberg. In each of the last four races held at the Red Bull Ring to date, the 26 year old made it to the podium. But in 2019, just Spielberg won’t be a part of the calendar any more. And Budapest where he finished third on Saturday also was cancelled. “Of course I would have liked to keep the two events on the calendar,” says Müller. Not only because of my cool races that were a nice side effect. But I don’t think that these circuits have got something special enabling me to secure podiums. I also proved to be competitive at other circuits. At circuits I enjoy driving at. Spielberg always makes for great races with a lot of overtaking opportunities. And at Budapest we use to have a lot of fans and it’s a very technical circuit that represents a real challenge for us. “I’m confident that I have got what it takes to be successful at the existing and the new race venues on the 2019 calendar. At Hockenheim I secured my only DTM pole position to date and at the Norisring my only win. Therefore, I needn’t worry.”

In the early stages of the season, he lacked the necessary competitiveness

The smart Swiss has been racing in DTM for five years, now. In the last three seasons, Müller finished 9th, 12th and now 10th in the championship. In the end, Müller comes to a positive conclusion when it comes to the 2018 season. “We had a very difficult start. In the early stages of the season, we lacked the competitiveness it takes to battle it out for the top positions. That wasn’t what we had hoped for. But to be a factor for the race wins in the closing stages and witness René fighting for the title was satisfying. And to be the second-best Audi driver certainly also is a good result. Of course I would have loved to have secured an even better position in the championship but I think I can be happy with my achievements in the 2018 season.”

The Lausitzring proved to be a real low

Particularly in the beginning, everything went wrong. Müller had to leave the venues of the first two race meetings empty-handed. At Hockenheim he finished 13th twice and two weeks later, at Klettwitz, he did even worse: in one of the races he finished 17th, in the other he was forced into retirement. “For me, the races at the Lausitzring were particularly frustrating. In the qualifying sessions I was the best Audi driver, thus securing relatively good grid positions – but in the races we just weren’t able to match the pace. We went in the wrong direction regarding our setup. Fighting at the end of the field was a sobering experience. But we quickly learned from these mistakes and turned the table as well as possible. We increased our competitiveness step by step.” In the first half of the season, Müller scored just 29 points but in the second he added another 67 points to his tally.”We checked every detail, every single screw to improve the competitiveness of our package. And in the end we made it to the working area,” Müller explains the upward trend.

Despite being just 26 years old he has got five years of DTM experience under his belt

The 26-year old Swiss already contested 84 DTM races. In 38 of these races he made it to the top 10 and seven times even to the top three. Nonetheless, he still is waiting for more major triumphs. But as Müller sees it, it’s just a question of time until he will make it. “Time is flying. The fact that I already have been racing at such a high level for five year although I am so young makes me proud. Racing in DTM is big fun for me and I feel absolutely great in the Audi family. I think it doesn’t take much to make the next step. The pace is there. The really small details make the difference in DTM. And you have to be among the front-runners throughout the season. And a good start into the season is particularly important as it helps you to quickly find the rhythm and the flow.”

In on race Müller made it to the top step: in 2016 at the Norisring. Today (11th December, 2018) he has been waiting for his second DTM win for 897 days and 48 races respectively. Nonetheless, he doesn’t agonise over this situation. “It goes without saying that you want to secure as many wins as possible. But doing so in DTM is not too easy. It’s an extremely well-balanced, homogenous field. Everything has to run perfectly if you want to win. I came close to making it to the top step a few times. But certain circumstances prevented me from making it, in the end. I count myself lucky to have won a DTM race at all. That’s motivating me to add the second, third, fourth and fifth wins to my tally.”

Timo Glock, again and again Timo Glock…

In the past two years, Müller and Glock were connected by an ‘intimate friendship’. Both in the traffic on the track and verbally, the two got in one another’s way. In 2017 at the Nürburgring, the BMW driver called Müller a brake shoe and in 2018, in the Sunday race at the Hungaroring, Müller and Glock had a close encounter on lap one, with Glock spinning and dropping back to last position. In the first Norisring round Müller hit the side of Glock’s car while the German was passing him. Glock had problems to not lose it but succeeded in staying ahead of Müller. The race control, however, told him to let the Audi driver re-pass him. But Müller isn’t of the opinion that he and Glock are having a long-term feud. “Really, I haven’t got any problems with him. We both can laugh about it. We often are standing close together and this also applies to the grid, for whatever reason. We run into one another in nearly every race. We had our invidious moments but none of us deliberately put a spoke in the other’s wheel. We had just race accidents. Once he got off lightly, the next time I. Things like this happen, that’s racing. Hard battles are a part of it. And they provide the spectators great entertainment.”

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