Audi driver Nico Muller says he “paid the price” for getting dirt on his tyres during the final lap of the DTM’s second Lausitzring race, which was decided by 0.089s.
Reigning champion Rene Rast had been on course to take a comfortable victory in the second race of the weekend, having outduelled polesitter Robin Frijns, until Muller closed in the latter stages.
After failing to make a move on his Audi stablemate at Turn 1, Muller took advantage of a double boost of push-to-pass and DRS while exiting the final banked corner, pulling alongside as they drove approached the finish line.
But Rast just held on to deny him a fourth win in as many races, with the smallest winning margin since the DTM was revived in 2000.
After suffering his first defeat of 2020, Muller said the pickup on his tyres after being pushed into the dirt by Rast had been vital.
“I only had one lap of DRS left for the last three laps of the race,” said Muller. “So I was not really 100 percent sure if I already shoot [it] when you exit the last corner on the second last lap.
“But I thought it would be smart to try and keep a second chance open and I didn’t go all-in for Turn 1.
“Rene pushed me a bit onto the dirt on the exit when I was trying to get my nose in, which was fully normal. I was just not quite alongside enough on the exit, picked up shit on the tyres.
“This weekend, especially offline there’s a lot of dust and if you go there, it takes you three-four corners to fully recover. I paid the price for that.
“I knew that in the end my only real chance would be to outdrag him towards the line with my last DRS and push to pass and it didn’t quite work out.
“I had lost just too much ground when I went through the dirt, that was it.
‘Maybe it would have been the better choice to try and divebomb into Turn 1, but when you’re teammates and driving for the same brand, it’s maybe not the same risks you take.
“I opted for trying to make a smart move without risking ending our both races. And in the end he was a little bit ahead, the small detail made the difference again.”
The Lausitzring round marked the second time Rast fended off Muller for victory during the dying laps of a DTM race in 2020, having also defeated the Swiss in the second race at Spa earlier this month.
However, Rast was stripped of the result 12 days later after it was found that he illegally used push-to-pass twice while in the lead of the race.
Rast said: “I knew Nico would be coming because he stopped later and I always checked where he was on track.
“And in the last two laps he came closer and closer.
“I expected the race to be one lap shorter so I was a bit surprised that we have to go one lap longer than my calculation was.
“Obviously DRS and push-to-pass have a big effect, but I wasn’t sure if Nico has push-to-pass and DRS left.
“I tried basically to defend as good as I could and try to get a good momentum out of the last corner and hoping that he had no DRS and push to pass left.
“It was just enough.”