Nico Müller: “I had nowhere to go”
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline driver Nico Müller claimed the lead at the start of the second DTM race of the Norisring weekend. But an incident two corners later with fellow Audi driver René Rast ruined his chances as Müller got a drive-through penalty.
“I got a good start and took the lead at Turn 1,” Müller told TouringCarTimes. “But I locked the brakes and couldn’t shift down to first gear, so I was in second gear at 35 km/h, so I didn’t have any power on the exit of the corner and I tried to shift down so, when it finally worked, I had already lost a position to Bruno (Spengler), so that was unfortunate.”
Müller continued towards the chicane as René Rast trying to overtake him on the outside, resulting in contact between the two.
“René was on my left, I was on the inside approaching Turn 2. I didn’t want to take any risk as I knew we had a good car and had the chance to fight for the win, so I let him go on the outside and I stayed to the right,” explained the Swiss driver.
“I still had to go somewhere and I also saw that the BMWs were trying to follow René, so I just kept trying to turn to the right and he moved to the right so he could get a good exit for Turn 3, but I couldn’t go anywhere.
“It was a very small contact, but it sent him into a spin, which is very frustrating. I’m very sorry for me, for him, for the team, for Audi, it’s the last thing you want to see, two championship leaders fighting at the front of the race and then his and my race were ruined, mine with the drive-through.”
Müller says he thinks the incident could have been avoided.
“It was a s**t outcome out of something I think could have been avoided by both of us. He was very confident and assuming he could turn to the right when I was still there. Yes, I could have jumped onto the brakes, but I didn’t expect him to turn to the right,” said Müller.
“I think we could have avoided it, in the end I was the one touching him and sending him into a spin, so I can’t say I don’t take any blame for it, but I think he was very confident. Still, no hard feelings, we have talked, we are disappointed and we move on.”
Audi Motorsport boss Dieter Gass was disappointed over the incident.
“I think the contact was only a consequence of what happened in the first corner,” Gass told TouringCarTimes. “We had three cars coming into the first corner, everybody braking late and then the other two Audis were on the outside and couldn’t turn in because Nico was there.
“Then the acceleration out of the first corner was very bad, especially for Nico, so they ended up very close in the second corner and there was a very small contact. I don’t know whether Nico could have gone somewhere but it’s a shame for everyone,” concluded Gass.
As the fourth round of the season is complete, Rast leads the championship with 127 points, 25 ahead of Müller and 26 over Philipp Eng. Audi heads the manufacturers’ standings on 457 points, 115 over BMW Motorsport, with Aston Martin third with 27 points.