Nico Müller says his attempts to take the lead in the final lap of the Sunday DTM race at Spa-Francorchamps were thwarted by a ‘very smart move’ from eventual race winner Rene Rast.
Rast and Müller were separated by less than half a second when the two crossed the line, with Müller pressuring his rival throughout the closing stages of the race.
During the post-race press conference, Müller confessed that he had attempted to take the lead in the final lap, but an early lift from his rival into Eau Rouge prevented a possible move for the lead.
“I messed it up, Rene was very very smart,” he said. “I knew that he would know that I would try it on the last lap, and I was expecting something.
“How he played it was very smart, backing me up. I just didn’t expect it to be that late. I thought it would come earlier, in La Source. At one point I was confident that he was just going to try to stay in front and do something going down the straight.
“And so I activated by Push-to-Pass, and for me, in the car, it felt like a millisecond after, he started to lift off. And I was like ‘no, that’s my Push-to-Pass wasted’.
“And I came up on top of Eau Rouge, activated the DRS, had a little slide and my DRS closed automatically as well. So both of my overtaking tools were gone and wasted, thanks to a very smart move from Rene.
“He used all of his experience today, showed why he is the one to beat and in the end I think he deserves that win.”
Rast, for his part, explained that he had anticipated that Müller would challenge him for the final lap, as it would minimize the chances of Rast repassing the Swiss driver by using DRS.
“I felt that in the second stint I was on the same pace as Nico,” said Rast. “At one point I could pass him, and then it felt like Nico didn’t want to pass me back.
“Because obviously, once he’d pass me back, he was in the lead, I would have DRS and we would switch back and forth all the time. So he was very smart and stayed behind me and was waiting for the last lap.”
“I knew it was going to be the last lap or nothing and I prepared my exit of Eau Rouge a bit different, so I took his momentum away.
He was not able then to pass me on the back straight, which was for me obviously the key for the victory.”