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Nico Müller still feels that René Rast is ‘the one to beat’

DTM points leader Nico Müller admits that he still feels that reigning champion René Rast is ‘the one to beat’ this year, even though the Swiss racer has 46 points more than his German rival.

Müller has been on superlative form this year, claiming four race wins and eight podium finishes out of the ten races so far.

His Abt Sportsline team has also emerged as the outfit to beat in the dominant Audi camp, with team-mate Robin Frijns being Müller’s closest challenger in the title race, 29 points adrift.

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Reflecting on the season so far, the new father admits that he is delighted with the progress achieved so far, as he chases down a maiden DTM title in this condensed season.

“My team and I have achieved four victories and there could have been more,” said Müller. “I think that speaks for itself.

“I am very happy with the work that we have done as a team so far. Everyone is highly motivated and doing an excellent job and I just feel good in the car and can deliver the results.

“So, it was a very positive first half of the season for me and I can build on that.”

Last weekend at the Nürburgring, racing on the Grand Prix circuit, the 28-year-old was dominant, claiming both pole positions and easing to a comfortable win in Saturday’s race.

The Swiss was also leading early on in Sunday’s second race, before a sensor issue limited his engine power and dropped him to fifth.

Müller described it as his best weekend in the DTM since he joined the German series in 2014.

“I think it was the strongest weekend of my DTM career as far as my performance is concerned, but also that of my crew.

“We were actually the fastest car in the field in every single session from Friday to Sunday. There is no better way to make peace with the track.

“The only thing was the incident in Sunday’s race, when the problem with the defective sensor began on the fifth lap.

“Of course, that hurts when you have to lose out on points like that, but in the end, there are a lot more positive things to take away from this weekend than what we should mourn over from Sunday for a long time.

“We don’t have time for that in this compact season.”

After losing out on a podium in race two last weekend, and in race two of the second Lausitzring visit, Müller said he was frustrated to lose out on a string of unbroken podium finishes.

“I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t annoyed by them. Fifth place last Sunday was annoying in particular. Simply because I’m sure we would have won that race.

“The car felt perfect in terms of its balance, but technical problems are part of motorsport.

“At the Lausitzring, on the other hand, others were smarter than us, especially the brand from Munich. I need to acknowledge that and then I can live with it.”

Nico Müller, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi RS5 DTM
Photo: ITR GmbH

The experienced DTM racer, with 112 starts to his name, is being challenged more than ever by his team-mate in 2020.

Müller is enjoying the inter-team rivalry at Abt Sportsline with Frijns, adding that it was a unique situation for him to be in in his racing career.

“It’s a fun situation – we really have a very good relationship,” continued Müller. “That is not normally the case. I’ve never had anything like this in my career and then in the same team.

“We push each other extremely hard. Of course, we want to beat each other on track, that has to be the case, but it’s not like a bad mood arises when one of us loses out.

“We have two very strong crews in the team and whoever does the better job has simply earned it. In my opinion, this is a very healthy basis.

“I am convinced that Robin is one of the most talented racing drivers on the planet and I’m proud every time I am able to beat him. But, I’m also happy for him when he wins a race.

“I believe that at the moment our good relationship within the team is contributing to our strengths. We’ll see if either of us still have a chance in the title fight at the finale in Hockenheim. And then we hope for a hot showdown.”

Whilst enjoying his rivalry with Frijns, for Müller it is actually two-time champion Rast who is looking up to the most, even though Rast has only taken two victories so far this year.

“For me, it is René, as the reigning champion, who is still the one to beat. He and his team have done such an impressive job over the past three years and he’s a fierce opponent for the title again this year.

“Even if he’s not leading the championship at the moment, he’s always up there with you. We still have four weekends ahead of us, a lot can still happen.”

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