In qualifying, Nico Müller looked at times as if he would finish in midfield or even in the duels of the top eight drivers, before he was pushed through to 18th place in the final minutes. In a spectacular, at times even chaotic race, the Swiss kept out of almost all the scuffles and finished eleventh. “An event with ups and downs, but also an upward trend,” says Nico Müller. “With a better starting position, more would have been possible today. But even so, we’re taking a lot of positives to South Africa – an event that I’m looking forward to, as is the whole paddock.”
After a 14th place at the season opener in Mexico and retirements and backfield positions in Saudi Arabia, the finish in the Indian metropolis was the best result of the season for ABT CUPRA so far. “We are still nowhere near where we want to be, but we notice that our steps are going in the right direction,” says team principal Thomas Biermaier. “We had our first chance to fight for a good grid position here in India in qualifying. We have to build on this in South Africa, and then we’ll soon have the first points under our belt. The whole team is pulling along great and the upward trend makes everyone even more eager to perform in Cape Town.”
For Kelvin van der Linde, the race was over after nine laps. The 26-year-old South African had already experienced two moments of shock on Friday and in qualifying when his car failed to decelerate due to technical defects around the battery. In the race, which van der Linde started from last place on the grid, he reported a strange feeling in the car immediately after the start. The team decided to abandon for safety reasons and called the youngster back to the pits.
The early stages of this season in particular do not allow drivers, teams and organizers to take a breather: the fifth round of the season in Cape Town (South Africa) is already on the calendar in two weeks’ time. Whether regular driver Robin Frijns will return to the team after his injury at the season opener or Kelvin van der Linde will contest his home race has not yet been decided. Frijns will train in the simulator in Kempten for the first time again on Wednesday. At the same time, van der Linde is also preparing with the engineers. At the end of the week, the team will then decide who will start alongside Nico Müller. “Of course, we all want Robin to return as soon as possible,” says Thomas Biermaier. “At the same time, however, we want to give him all the time he needs to fully heal from the injury without any pressure. Either way, we’ll have a strong line-up in our cars in Cape Town.”