Audi DTM team boss likens "wiser" Muller to Rast

Nico Muller has matured as a driver over the years and has a “lot of similarities” with his Audi DTM predecessor Rene Rast, according to Team Rosberg chief Kimmo Liimatainen.

Audi DTM team boss likens "wiser" Muller to Rast

Liimatainen’s factory Audi squad fielded Rast in the DTM for the last four seasons, powering the German driver to an incredible run of three championships and 24 race wins during that period.

However, Rast’s move to Formula E in 2021 left Team Rosberg searching for another A-list driver, with Muller - who was Rast’s closest title challenger during the last two seasons - eventually hired as his replacement.

Muller began his DTM career with Team Rosberg in 2014 and stayed there for a second season before moving across to fellow Audi squad Abt in 2016 and becoming one of the series’ top drivers.

Having worked with Muller during the two pre-season tests at Hockenheim and Lausitzring over the last two months, Liimatainen compared the Swiss driver with his team's most successful driver Rast, praising his approach to small details.

"Nico has become older, more mature and wiser,” said Liimatainen. “You can see that he is taking some responsibility - and is ready for it. 

“He is now taking on a certain leadership role as a driver. I also see a lot of similarities with Rene. He's very detail-oriented and really puts in the work to gain an advantage. Not just for himself, but to move us forward as a team."

"He recommended certain people to me as consultants for this project, and I hired them. This comes from Nico. I'm not going to name names now, but there is someone who has a lot of experience as far as the Audi GT3 project is concerned. And that recommendation came from Nico."

Muller himself said that he wasn’t expecting to change teams over the winter following the end of the DTM’s Class One era, and had little to no say in the matter.

Nico Müller, Team Rosberg, Audi R8 LMS GT3

Nico Müller, Team Rosberg, Audi R8 LMS GT3

Photo by: DTM

“It was a decision taken by Audi together with the teams and I was largely not involved with it,” he said.

“For me let’s say there was initially never really a question of staying or leaving. For me initially it seemed logical to stay where I was and I felt very comfortable there and we also delivered quite good results, so I didn’t really think of anything else firstly. 

“But as the topic came up I could also see the interest in the challenge of starting something new again and Rosberg has proved to be super successful in the DTM in the last few years, they know what they are doing, they are great people and they are very committed to doing well in this new era of DTM as well. 

"I didn’t take the decision, I’m happy I didn’t have to because obviously it would have been a very difficult one."

In response to Muller’s comments, Liimatainen said Audi chose to move him to Team Rosberg to ensure all its factory-supported teams in the DTM had a balanced driver line-up.

Muller will race alongside American racer Dev Gore at Team Rosberg, while Abt will field GT3 star Kelvin van der Linde, 2013 champion Mike Rockenfeller and former FIA F3 driver Sophia Floersch in 2021 as part of an expanded three-car entry.

"It's great that he's with us,” Liimatainen said. “He is definitely one of the best drivers in the Audi squad. 

“For me it was clear: If I can't have Rene Rast because of Formula E, then I want Nico. Audi played along well with that. Therefore, everything is good."

shares
comments

Related video

Hawkey linked to join DTM in second Lamborghini
Previous article

Hawkey linked to join DTM in second Lamborghini

Next article

Hawkey secures DTM move with Lamborghini squad

Hawkey secures DTM move with Lamborghini squad
The longest-serving Red Bull driver revealing F1’s true brutality Plus

The longest-serving Red Bull driver revealing F1’s true brutality

His day of days in Formula 1 came at Indianapolis in 2005, a day grand prix racing strives to forget. But Patrick Friesacher, the long-serving Red Bull lieutenant, remains active today driving a two-seater that provides ordinary people with a glimpse of an F1 car’s savage potential, including this writer...

Formula 1
Jun 2, 2022
How the DTM has come back stronger from its Norisring nadir Plus

How the DTM has come back stronger from its Norisring nadir

OPINION: Questionable driving standards and farcical team orders meant the DTM's first season under GT3 regulations ended under a cloud. But the organisation has responded firmly by banning team orders and welcomed new manufacturers, making for an intriguing season ahead as new and returning names prepare for battle

DTM
Mar 30, 2022
The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics Plus

The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics

Over two decades as a factory driver with Audi and BMW, Martin Tomczyk earned the respect of team-mates and rivals as a hard but fair racer. After calling time on his racing career, the 2011 DTM champion sat down with Autosport to look back

GT
Mar 5, 2022
The other Hamilton conqueror seeking career revival Plus

The other Hamilton conqueror seeking career revival

On his rise through the ranks before reaching Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton was usually a cut above the rest. But he never truly asserted himself over a Mercedes-backed fellow Briton who traded single-seaters for touring cars and is now seeking new opportunities after a year largely spent on the sidelines

DTM
Dec 18, 2021
How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions Plus

How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions

OPINION: The scenes at the Norisring as Mercedes used blatant team orders to secure the first DTM title of the new GT3 era totally undermined the credibility of the championship. But as well as overshadowing the season, it also presents uncomfortable questions to series bosses about the direction it is headed in

DTM
Oct 12, 2021
How Audi's new DTM star is channeling Rast to achieve his "childhood dream" Plus

How Audi's new DTM star is channeling Rast to achieve his "childhood dream"

Having learned the ropes in GT3 alongside Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde is in line to take up the three-time champion's baton as Audi's new DTM king. From humble origins in South Africa, it's been a remarkable journey so far for the current series leader, but he knows that the 2021 title is a long way from settled just yet

DTM
Sep 18, 2021
The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive Plus

The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive

Switching to GT3 regulations marked a fresh start for the DTM in 2021, but it has also drawn a line in the sand against other series using similar cars by engaging AVL Racing to develop a bespoke Balance of Performance system. Here’s how it works

DTM
Jul 23, 2021
The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars Plus

The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars

OPINION: Facing collapse last year, the DTM has shifted its philosophy from a championship for silhouette-based touring cars to GT machines not too dissimilar to those racing across multiple series worldwide. But despite some initial BoP-based teething troubles, there were some pleasant findings as the 'new DTM' got underway at Monza

DTM
Jun 22, 2021