Tag Archives: Nico Müller

WSR 3.5

WSR 3.5 Monaco

NICO MÜLLER TAKES MAIDEN POLE

Forty-eight hours after free practice, the Formula Renault 3.5 drivers were back on the streets of Monaco for qualifying. Nico Müller, who had a quiet practice session on Thursday, pulled off a surprise by claiming his first ever pole position in the category. The Swiss will share the front row of the grid with Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin).

As always at Monaco, the 26 drivers were split into two groups for qualifying. The fastest time overall would earn pole position, with the rest of drivers from the pole-sitter’s group lining up directly behind him on the starting grid. The drivers from the other group, meanwhile, would start the race on the other side of the grid.

Kevin Magnussen (DAMS), the overall championship leader coming into this round, led Group A on to the track for the first 25-minute qualifying session. The session started with threatening skies overhead, but the sun was able to pierce the clouds and gradually warm up the track.

Conditions, however, remained difficult, as Nigel Melker (Tech 1 Racing) proved by spinning at Rascasse. Jazeman Jaafar went quickest lap after lap, and set a benchmark time of 1:25.017 before returning to the pits for his second set of fresh tyres.

With only three minutes of the session remaining, Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen launched his bid for the fastest time, and was the first driver to lap in under 1:25. Magnussen then improved once more, before Jaafar went fastest again with a lap of 1:23.648. Carlos Sainz Jr. came close to finishing the session fastest, but missed out after bouncing his car over the kerbs at the Piscine chicane. Jaafar held on to top the timesheets, with Norman Nato (DAMS) and Will Stevens (P1 by Strakka Racing) second and third respectively.

Shortly after, the Group B drivers made their way on to the track. Zoel Amberg (Pons Racing) went straight on at Rascasse and a few drivers locked up at the exit of the tunnel section, but there were otherwise no major incidents. After 10 minutes, Stoffel Vandoorne (Fortec Motorsports) lapped in 1:24.514, and the Belgian stayed top of the timesheets until the final ten minutes.

Marco Sorensen (Lotus) was first to beat Jaafar’s benchmark time, while Antonio Félix da Costa (Arden Caterham), another contender for pole, was thwarted on what should have been his fastest lap. At the chequered flag, Nico Müller (International Draco Racing) snatched pole position with a lap of 1:23.453. He finished ahead of Marco Sorensen, Stoffel Vandoorne – who will receive a five-place grid penalty – Antonio Félix da Costa and Mikhail Aleshin.

Nico Müller: “It’s an amazing feeling to have taken my first Formula Renault 3.5 pole at Monaco! I wasn’t very comfortable on Thursday, but we worked hard as a team to improve our performance. Here, you have to take all your risks on the final lap. It paid off for me and I’m very pleased. Part of the work is done, but the hardest part is still in front of us.”

Jazeman Jaafar: “This result builds on our performance in free practice, where we worked very well as a team. I’m a bit disappointed that I’m only second, but the second group was always going to be quicker. It’s my first drive at Monaco, but I love the circuit. I’m improving with every lap and it’s very exciting.”

World Series by Renault

Mixed conditions for FR 3.5 stars in Germany

The 26 drivers in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series field had both wet and dry track conditions to deal with today at the Nürburgring. Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) clocked the best time in the dry, while Nico Müller (International Draco Racing) was the fastest man in the rain. Once again, rain or no rain, there is very little to separate the drivers.

There are two notable changes to the entry list for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series this weekend. Brazilian driver Cesar Ramos, 11th overall in the competition in 2011 and third in the Rookie division, replaces Lotus driver Richie Stanaway, who is currently recovering from injury in Cap Breton. Antonio Felix de Costa, recruited recently by Red Bull Junior Team, is the other new face, and he will be making his debut in the completion for Arden Caterham. The Portuguese driver, third in the 2009 Eurocup Formula Renault and winner of the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC the same year, steps in to replace Lewis Williamson.

It was Robin Frijns (Fortec Motorsport), Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) and Alexander Rossi (Arden Caterham) who started the morning session brightest, before Marco Sorensen (Lotus) took control of proceedings. Magnussen’s flying lap of 1:42.719 eclipsed Sebastian Vettel’s effort of 1:42.984, which until today had been the Formula Renault 3.5 track record at the Nürburgring.

The red flag came out to interrupt the session for the first time after Lucas Foresti (Dams) went off the track. After the track had been cleared, Nick Yelloly (Comtec Racing) moved top of the timesheets with a lap of 1:42.428, before Magnussen, on fresh rubber, increased the pace even further. With a flying lap of 1:41.677, the Danish driver recorded the best time of the morning session to finish top of the pile, ahead of Yelloly and Carlos Huertas.

The afternoon brought a change in conditions, characterised by a wet track and heavy rainfall. The session began with a collision between Will Stevens (Carlin) and Walter Grubmüller (P1 Motorsport). Russian pair Daniil Move (P1 Motorsport) and Mikhail Aleshin (Team RFR) set the pace, despite both drivers taking detours into the gravel trap.

The rain eased towards the end of the session, and this was reflected in the lap times. Yelloly, Alexander Rossi and Nico Müller traded first place lap after lap, with the latter eventually finishing top at the end of a decidedly wet session. The Swiss driver finished ahead of Rossi, Sorensen and newcomers Cesar Ramos and Antonio Felix da Costa.

Nico Müller: “When the track is dry, you really need to have a bit of luck to get the right lap at the right time, because the peak performance of the tyres lasts a very short time. I’ve been in the leading group since the start of the season, but I’m just missing that little extra something to turn it into results. In the dry I’m short of those few tenths that make the difference, but in the wet we’re right up there.”

Cesar Ramos: “These were obviously my first laps in the new car. I haven’t driven a single racing car since October 2011, aside from a few laps in a go-kart. I’m going to need a bit of time to get back into the rhythm. I’ve been impressed by the downforce of this car and its cornering speed. The braking is also very good and the DRS is an interesting feature. I immediately felt comfortable at the wheel of the car.”

Antonio Felix da Costa: “This car is a learning experience. I’m starting from scratch and I have a lot to learn. The car is quick and the team seems very efficient, so everything is there for us to do well. I was lucky enough to drive a Formula One car during the Young Driver Test in 2010. That experience helps me a bit, as there’s quite a big difference between the GP3 and the Formula Renault 3.5. Joining Red Bull Junior Team is a huge opportunity. My goal is to become a Formula One driver, and I know that succeeding with Red Bull is the best way to get there.”

F1Weekly podcast # 564

F1weekly Podcast number 564

Special weekend interview with Nico Müller

Müller began his karting career in 2004 and the following year, Müller finished sixth in the Bridgestone Cup Switzerland ICA Junior class. He improved to third place in the same competition in 2006 and also finished as runner-up in the Swiss Junior Championship. In 2007, he won the Bridgestone Cup Switzerland KF3 class, winning the title by a single point, and took fifth place in the Swiss KF3 championship.

Formula Renault 2.0

In 2008, Müller stepped up to single-seaters, racing in his native Formula Renault series for Jenzer Motorsport. In his first year in the category, he finished fifth, taking a victory at Spa-Francorchamps along with two other podium places. He also took part in selected races of both the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 2.0 West European Cup series. In November of that year, he contested the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 Winter Series, which was held over two races at the Imola circuit. Müller took two podium places to finish third in the standings, behind Kazim Vasiliauskas and champion Daniel Mancinelli.

Müller remained in the Swiss Formula Renault 2.0 series in 2009 and wrapped up the title in dominant fashion, finishing on the podium in all twelve races, taking nine victories and nine pole positions.

He also contested a full season of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship with Jenzer Motorsport. He originally finished third in his début race in Barcelona, but was later promoted to second following the disqualification of race winner Albert Costa. During the season he took a further four points-scoring positions to finish eleventh in the championship, the third highest placed rookie driver.

GP3 Series

In 2010, Müller graduated to the new GP3 Series, continuing his long relationship with Jenzer Motorsport. He took his first victory in the category at the third round of the season in Valencia, winning the sprint race after starting from the front row of the grid. Another podium followed at the next round at Silverstone before he took his second win of the year with victory from pole position in the feature race at the Hungaroring.

A haul of nine points in the final round at Monza ensured that Müller finished the season third overall behind Robert Wickens and eventual champion Esteban Gutiérrez.

 [audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/mp3.f1weekly.com/podcasts/03-24-12f1weekly564.mp3]

Motorsports Mondial

CHAMPIONS OF 2010

GP3 – ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ

The Lion of Nuevo León

Like the lion roars in the jungle, this young Mexican driver has been rip roaring through the competition. Marking his territory, from Salt Lake City to Spa-Francorchamps.

In three years of racing in the cut-throat world of European jungle, Esteban Gutierrez has claimed two dominant championships. And in 2011 he will enter the final frontier before Formula 1, GP2 with Lotus-ART team.

Esteban triumphed this year in the inaugural season of GP3 Series, created by the same people who are behind the highly successful GP2 Series, Bruno Michel & Company.

GP3 turbo machine.

The Dallara-built car is powered by a Renault-turbo engine while Pirelli supplies the rubber. The car made its track debut in June 2009 at Paul Ricard in the south of France in the capable hands of Romain Grosjean.

The Geneva-born and based banker and F1 aspirant was impressed by the new race car.

“This is a great car! Compared to Formula 3 car, the acceleration is better and speeds in fast corners are similar. The paddle shift on the steering is also a great addition to a car that will definitely prepare GP3 drivers to step into the next category, GP2,” Grosjean commented after the initial shakedown.

Mark Webber, who co-owns MW Arden team in GP3 with Christian Horner, also tested the car in November last year at the same track and was equally enthusiastic.

“I can honestly say it is like driving a small F1 car,” assured the Australian.

Season of domination.

Gutierrez was on the go as soon as the pre-season testing commenced, posting some of the fastest times both at Paul Ricard and Circuit de Catalunya.

The birth of the new series in Barcelona, as a support race to Spanish Grand Prix, saw a difficult wet-dry conditions in qualifying which saw Dutch driver Nigel Melker grab pole position and a surprised Pal Varhaug of Norway sharing the front row with him. Varhaug led the race from start to finish to become the first ever race winner in GP3 Series.

Gutierrez started his charge from the fourth row and was in third place by the end of the opening lap. The remaining laps saw a great battle between Gutierrez and Robert Wickens for second place. The Canadian was able to hold off Gutierrez.

The reverse grid for second race of top eight finishers from Saturday’s event saw Gutierrez start sixth, and he was on the podium again, this time returning the favor and holding off Wickens for third place. The race was won by Gutierrez’s ART teammate from northern California, Alexander Rossi, who started from pole courtesy of his eighth place finish in race one of the weekend.

The Gutierrez gun got blazing in round two. He started the opening race of round two in Istanbul from front row and put in a Pasha performance of complete and utter domination. He led from start to finish and was over 10-seconds ahead of runner-up James Jakes.

Victory also gave Gutierrez the championship lead.

Second race of the weekend saw maiden win for Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto. Gutierrez kept his championship lead despite placing seventh.

The streets of Valencia gave Gutierrez his first pole position of the season, and he made the most of it by leading the race from start to finish. His fastest lap on the final lap gave him a bonus point which helped him to extend his championship lead over Wickens, who finished second.

The opening lap of race two on Sunday saw Gutierrez and Wickens collide, spinning the Mexican driver to the bottom of the field and sending the Canadian to the pit lane for a drive-through penalty. Gutierrez raced hard but finished out of the points in seventh but with championship lead still intact.

The race was won by the Swiss driver Nico Müller.

The Silverstone show placed Gutierrez on pole from which he scored his third successive feature win of the season, setting the fastest lap on the final tour of the circuit. Indonesian star Rio Haryanto chased hard all the way to second place finish.

Starting Sunday’s race two in eighth place Gutierrez charged through the field to fight for second place with Italian Mirko Bortolotti, the duel intensified resulting in Gutierrez squeezed out on the grass on the final lap. This allowed his teammate Rossi to fight for the final podium finish which both fought with fierce determination, the Californian claiming third place finish by a mere 0.08s.

The race was won by Canadian Daniel Morad, his first win of the season.

There was more Canadian success in the opening race of the following round at Hockenheimring. Robert Wickens, who, like Morad, hails from Toronto, scored his first win of the season. Gutierrez finished fourth.

The second German race gave Gutierrez win number four of the season. This put him 30 points ahead of second place Wickens and 38 points ahead of third man, teammate Rossi.

The Hungarian round saw front row finish in the same position, pole-sitter Nico Müller taking the win from Gutierrez, the Mexican had matched his lap time in qualifying but the Swiss driver’s time was set first and was, thus, awarded pole position.

Sunday’s round two in Budapest almost ended in an American one-two. Alexander Rossi led the race from start from to finish over pole-sitter Josef Newgarden, who hails from Tennessee, but his car stopped only three laps from the end.

Gutierrez came in fifth. Wickens, despite finishing second, was now 35 points behind Gutierrez with only two rounds remaining.

The fabled Spa-Francorchamps witnessed a bizarre rain sodden race where Robert Wickens crashed while leading, managed to get going again and then wisely ran the clock out after the safety car came in with only 30 seconds remaining in the race.

Gutierrez failed to score any points and was unable to fire up the championship celebrations in the Ardennes forest.

Both title contenders, Gutierrez and Wickens, failed to score in race two, which saw an impressive win by Adrien Tambay. The son of ex-Ferrari Grand Prix driver Patrick was not a regular in the series. At Spa on Sunday he stayed on slick tires in the closing stages only to face rain falling again. He put on a great display of defensive driving to win ahead of Alexander Rossi.

The magical Monza was going to stage the season finale. But with an 18-point lead from maximum 20 points available, the wind and win was going Gutierrez’s way.

The Monza moment came before the race even started. Gutierrez took pole and bonus point made him GP3’s first ever champion. But he saved the best for last. Having lost the lead at the start, Gutierrez was third with three laps remaining. His relentless pursuit resulted in fifth win of the season

Sunday’s final race of the season at the Temple of Speed saw Wickens forced his way for an impressive win after starting seventh. After winning the race on Saturday Gutierrez started next to Wickens, but an off-course excursion while attempting a pass on Roberti Merhi going into Parabolica resulted in his only dnf of the season.

The new champion explained his season campaign to Autosport: “From the beginning our main focus was not only to win races and to win the championship, but to be consistent through the whole season. And in the end we have been able to keep a high level of consistency, and we have been working to improve ourselves and not think too much about the other guys. We’ve just tried to do our best and focus on the job. Every mechanic, every engineer did his job and we had a really good synergy and a really good attitude. Everyone was really positive all the time, even in the hard times.”


Esteban Gutierrez was born in Monterrey in the Mexican state of Nuevo León on August 5, 1991. His racing career started in Utah at the Miller Motorsports Park, near Salt Lake City. He grabbed pole positions for the first two races of his career in the 2007 Formula BMW US Championship. He was Rookie of the Year at season’s end. The following year he captured the European version of the same series, winning seven races, six of them in a row.

In 2009, he competed in the F3 Euro Series and finished in the top ten in the championship. His success this year has marked him as a star of the future. He is now signed as third driver for Sauber F1 team and posted very impressive times in recent GP2 testing in Abu Dhabi.

If Esteban can pull-off a Hamilton or Hulkenberg and win the GP2 Championship in his rookie season against experienced hands, from Bianchi and Bird to Turvey and Filippi, the roar of Mexican Hat Dance will be heard around the world.

— Nasir Hameed.

Buenos Dias from California.

All photos courtesy of www.estebangtz.com and Marks Granados.