Nico Mueller was “relieved” to bring an end to his win drought of over a year after winning the Sunday DTM race at Portimao, while also crediting Team Rosberg with the work done over the winter off the back of a challenging 2021 campaign.
Mueller took a dominant victory at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, leading the field from pole position and staying ahead of Felipe Fraga and Mirko Bortolotti to win.
It marked the Swiss driver’s first victory in the series in 539 days, having last taken a race win during the penultimate race of the 2020 season at Hockenheim.
Mueller’s first DTM season under the GT3 regulations was a difficult one, scoring a lone podium during the opening weekend at Monza before going on to finish tenth in the championship standings.
This was off the back of two years where he challenged for the championship and finished runner-up behind Rene Rast twice.
“I’m just relieved and super happy, so much work [has] been put into this,” Mueller said.
“To grab probably one of the rare opportunities this season, not because I don’t believe we will be strong but because I think the competitiveness of each package which shift weekend to weekend.
“Happy to grab that opportunity.”
The 30-year-old explained that Team Rosberg increased its testing activities over the winter, saying he was happy that the work done by the team paid off.
“Last year was very, very tough and to turn it around over the winter feels great, super glad for the team,” he said.
“We went testing more than the seasons before so you learn and you think you’re heading in the right direction, but you’re never really sure.
“You’re driving around in circles by yourself and hope that what you are doing is right.
“I’m just relieved that our feeling did not mislead us.
“Thankful for the team, thankful to Audi for their support and happy to be back in the mix.”
Mueller now sits at 26 points in the championship standings following his pole position and race win, lacking behind somewhat after his early retirement during the opening race on Saturday.
Mirko Bortolotti holds the lead in the championship with 36 points, as race winner Lucas Auer finished outside the points on Sunday.
“I think this year will be all about consistency,” Mueller spoke about the potential of a title challenge.
“So far, the most consistent guy is leading the championship, so I think that is the first taste of it.
“I feel like the days where you have the package to win, you need to grab it with both hands.
“Because I feel like you will have weekends this year, because of the competitiveness of the field, that you will not get that many opportunities to win races.
“When you are in the position, you really want to do it.
“It will be about limiting the damage when you cannot win and on a day like yesterday that is what my other Audi colleagues managed to do.
“Unfortunately, we got taken out of that game but luck will turn around and I think consistency will be the deciding factor this season and you need to maximize when you have the package.
“That will be the key.”