Nico Müller took a seemingly dominant victory in the opening race of the 2020 DTM championship at Spa-Francorchamps, but admitted he was worried about the state of his tyres during the final laps of the race.
The Swiss driver started the race from second place and captured the lead from polesitter Robin Frijns early on and opened up a gap, which he would maintain throughout the pit stop cycle and the remainder of the race.
While Müller appeared firmly in control from the outside, he admitted in the post-race press conference that he was worried that the intense nature of the Spa circuit would cause his tyres to give out.
“The first stint, everything went very well, I managed to keep the tyre alive for the whole stint, so I was very confident for the second stint,” Müller said. “And suddenly that famous cliff hit me, and the last four, five laps, I was just praying that the tyres would last.
“I was just scared going through Eau Rouge or all those quick corners that we have here in Spa, that the tyre would fail, if I’m honest.
I started getting vibrations and the tyre really being put through its paces on this track.
Such high loads, with Eau Rouge, all the compression, all these fast corners.”
Multiple drivers struggled with significant tyre degradation around the Belgian circuit. Notable, polesitter Robin Frijns fell away and finished ninth. Rene Rast also struggled with his Hankook rubber, making a second pitstop late in the race but ultimately finishing fifth after a late charge.
“It’s so much fun to drive, you know,” Müller continued. “In qualifying, the first time we hit the track in full dry conditions with new tyres, when you complete the lap, you go ‘oh wow’. But it’s not fun for everyone I guess, the tyre is suffering.
“But it clearly lasted, I think for everyone, as far as I heard. So good job to our friends from Hankook.
Yeah, very very happy with how it turned out.”