Muller defends title approach after comments from DTM boss Berger

Audi's Nico Muller has defended his approach to the DTM title race, after series boss Gerhard Berger emphasised that threatening championship leader Rene Rast was crucial for Muller's career

Muller defends title approach after comments from DTM boss Berger

At Lausitzring last time out, Audi sealed the manufacturers' crown convincingly over BMW and Aston Martin, with victories for Rast and Muller pushing leading BMW driver Marco Wittmann further out of contention for the drivers' title.

Audi has confirmed it will now switch its attention to fully supporting Rast and Muller's title fight, and it is evaluating giving both drivers new engines to help ensure reliability is not a factor.

Muller trails Rast by 20 points heading to the penultimate round at the Nurburgring, and the pair recently admitted to a degree of "tension" between them.

Following Brands Hatch in August, Berger had said: "If he always reluctantly gives in as a title contender and is satisfied with second place, then his reputation as a racer will be damaged. The killer instinct that flashed up at his last races showed me that he has that instinct."

When Muller was asked for his take on Berger's comments, the Audi driver told Autosport: "I can understand what he means, and for sure he's right, we all want to win, and I'm the first to try to go all-in on this chance we're having at the moment.

"But we all have to understand that racing a team-mate is something different than if it's a BMW or an Aston Martin.

"We can't take silly risks. We are in the position at Audi this year that we're the ones with a lot to lose, and everybody else has a lot to win.

"We can't afford to look stupid in the end because of silly things, and that's why we limit risks and do our best and still the fastest one should win.

"I admit, Rene is the man to beat. It's not that we are the ones who have to hold back to make him win, he is super-strong and sometimes he has days where you can beat him and we were definitely in that position a few times.

"We try to focus on what we have to improve to be able to beat him on pure performance.

"All the rest, people can talk, I'm happy to listen and read as it gives a little spice to the thing and keeps spectators and crowds entertained, which is good, and we focus on our jobs."

Former Audi driver Timo Scheider had stirred controversy through his blog for DTM broadcaster Sat.1 and was the first to suggest there was tension between Muller and Rast.

He has since ended up in a war of words with Rast after the DTM title leader claimed Scheider's comments were based on "false facts", with the pundit then refuting Rast's take.

When Autosport asked Berger for his view on Scheider's comments, he said: "I don't care. I'm happy to have controversy discussions.

"I just don't agree [with Schieder] at this stage and I said to the German journalists, I'm quite upset with the superficial way this is taken [by the media]."

Berger added that this was because he believed Muller's approach to racing Rast wheel-to-wheel "made sense", but reiterated that Muller "needed to perform or his career is in danger".

Autosport understands Audi's rules of conduct is that a driver is to let a team-mate who is clearly quicker past, and that push-to-pass is not to be used against other Audi drivers in order to help reliability.

shares
comments
Timo Glock: Classics BMW drive better than poor 2019 DTM season

Previous article

Timo Glock: Classics BMW drive better than poor 2019 DTM season

Next article

Ex-F1's Jenson Button to drive a SUPER GT entry in DTM finale

Ex-F1's Jenson Button to drive a SUPER GT entry in DTM finale
Load comments
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
Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM Plus

Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM

The DTM moves into its bold new GT3 era with welcome support from Red Bull, which enters two AF Corse-run Ferraris. That includes one for ex-F1 driver Alex Albon, who’s determined to make a success of his GT switch - but he knows it won't be easy...

DTM
Jun 17, 2021
The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king Plus

The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king

It's taken him a while to emerge as a consistent title challenger, but in the final year of DTM's Class One rule set, Nico Muller has smoothed the rough edges and has double champion stablemate Rene Rast working harder than ever to keep up in the title race

DTM
Oct 13, 2020
How a DTM failure became an unlikely Nurburgring conqueror Plus

How a DTM failure became an unlikely Nurburgring conqueror

Opel's fortunes in the DTM had taken a turn for the worst by 2003 - hardly the pedigree that suggested it could take on the toughest 24-hour race of them all. But that's exactly what it did

DTM
Sep 23, 2020
The season that revitalised a sleeping giant Plus

The season that revitalised a sleeping giant

On the 20th anniversary of the resumption of hostilities in the DTM, Autosport revisits a classic season that brought a staple of German motorsport back to life with a bang and set in motion the careers of some notable names

DTM
May 28, 2020
Does 2000 hold the answers to DTM's current crisis? Plus

Does 2000 hold the answers to DTM's current crisis?

It's 20 years since the DTM roared back into life at a packed Hockenheim with a back-to-basics approach as the antidote to its high-tech past. Now it's on its knees again, so is it time to recall the lessons learned in 2000?

DTM
May 28, 2020