2016 marks the third season for the Swiss Nico Müller in the DTM – and the first one in his new team, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline.
Audi’s youngest factory driver, aged 24, has learned a lot in his first two DTM years. “I now know that in the DTM there’s a lot more that matters than pure speed, because that’s what everyone in the DTM has,” says the hobby juggler who stays fit by cross-country skiing and mountain biking. “Instead, it’s about having every piece of the puzzle down pat. That’s not so easy in the DTM because we don’t get to drive a lot and the relative strengths change from one weekend to the next.”
Müller spent his first two DTM years in Audi Sport Team Rosberg. Now, his move to Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline is intended to promote the youngster’s further development. “Sometimes a breath of fresh air is helpful,” says Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport, who firmly believes in Nico Müller’s potential.
The 1.85-meter tall Swiss intends to justify this trust with good results at the wheel of the black-gray Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM this season. “I spent a few days with my team in winter and invested a lot of time in preparing for the season,” Müller says. “I hope that’s going to pay off. I’d like to compete for points at ABT right from the beginning and achieve my first DTM podium for Audi.” A target he achieved as early as in the first race of the year at Hockenheim – and even the first victory at Norisring.
There is one big victory Müller has already achieved for Audi: In 2015, he won the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in the new Audi R8 LMS, followed by a second place in the 24-hour race at Spa. “Even though the DTM is my absolute priority I’d obviously like to defend my victory at the Nürburgring – and at Spa, we’ve still got some unfinished business.”
In the DTM, Nico Müller drives car number “51,” a number that he has celebrated a lot of success with in other racing series. “My cousin used to have number ‘50’ on his kart. When I became his teammate it was only logical to take ’51,’” says the Audi driver. “I won a lot of races in karting with this number and subsequently the title in Formula Renault as well.”
His new teammate in Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline is someone Müller has known for quite some time. “Back at the young driver test at Monteblanco, Miguel Molina was the first Audi factory driver I met,” says the Swiss. “We get along very well. I even visited Miguel at his home in Lloret de Mar. We have a sound, friendly relationship. Obviously, we’re rivals on track. There are no friends there and your teammate is always the first driver you’d like to beat. But I’m sure that we’re going to work together well.”
Of all the DTM race tracks, Nico Müller likes Zandvoort best. “Zandvoort happens to be a real old-school track that doesn’t forgive any mistakes, so you get a high adrenaline surge. The track has lot of fast, fluid turns. Driving there is fun – a highlight on the DTM calendar.”
The imminent return to Budapest pleases the youngster as well. “That’s where I drove my first official DTM test. I have many positive memories of the circuit. I managed to win in GP3 and in the World Series there and was doing well in the DTM there in 2014, too. I like the track and the atmosphere.”
Müller not only switched teams. His previous privately used car, an Audi RS 6 Avant, has been replaced with an Audi RS 7. “As we’re spoiled by trying out something new every year we shouldn’t miss out on this opportunity,” he says. “The RS 6 is the best car you can imagine for everyday use if you enjoy sporty driving. The car is awesome. But the RS 7 is a rocket.”
That Audi Sport is now present in Switzerland as a brand in its own right pleases the youngster in particular: “This increases the public’s awareness of the brand’s sportiness. And maybe new people will be inspired to start watching DTM or LMP races – that would be great.”