Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline’s Nico Müller has displayed exceptional pace across DTM’s first visit to the Assen circuit, Holland, however, the Swiss driver was left thinking what might have been after a slow pitstop and a rapidly deflating left rear tyre in the final minutes of race two, cost him time on track.
Pitting on lap 14, Müller was locked in battle for a podium spot with local hero, and Abt Sportsline teammate, Robin Frijns, but a mistake at the stop cost him over five seconds.
“It’s valuable seconds we lost there,” explained the two-time DTM race winner, “But I think if that was a better stop we had the chance to be further up front.
“We are all humans, we all make mistakes.
“We won’t point fingers, the boys normally are doing a great job.”
Despite losing time at the stop Müller fought hard to put himself in podium contention, and after race leader Audi Sport Team Rosberg driver René Rast made an unconventional second stop, Müller found himself on the final step of the podium.
That being said, it was not an easy run to his sixth podium of the season.
“Tyre management was obviously the key,” described Müller, “It was at the very limit for me but it just worked out.
“I crossed the finish line with less than a bar of rear left tyre pressure, so it was definitely right on the edge.”
Aware of the tyre rapidly losing life, Müller was forced to reduce his pace and subsequently the pressure he was putting on BMW Team RMG’s Marco Wittmann.
“I’m pleased with P3 although I would have loved to fight Marco for the last two or three laps a bit harder than I could.
“I was losing tyre pressure on the rear left so didn’t want to hit any kerbs. If you lose all of it the race is over.
“And you throw away a podium and valuable points so I was trying to keep the pressure on to force him into a mistake but I didn’t want to make any silly moves.
“We will take these points and a good weekend overall.”
Müller closed the gap to Rast in the championship, the 2017 champion fought hard to take fifth place after making a second stop late in the race. With a double podium finish at Assen, Müller sits second in the standings, 22 points behind Rast.