7 August 2013
Yvan Muller, Citroen Racing - Q&A
Yvan Muller talks about his new two-year deal to join Citroen's World Touring Car Championship programme
What were your first impressions of Citroen Racing?
First of all, I found them very professional, but that wasn't surprising given the record of the rally team. Over the course of my career, I have raced for Italian, German, Spanish and British teams, and it has been a long time since I've worked with French people. They have a different way of thinking and working (I'm not saying it's better or worse than any other way!) and I need to learn Citroen Racing's working methods. I also need to get used to speaking my mother tongue again, as I've realised that I sometimes have trouble finding the right technical terms in French! It's all very recent, but I already feel at ease with Citroen.
You have an impressive record in WTCC. What are the secrets of your success in this category?
It's simple: you have to perform well and finish every race with as many points as possible! That said, the discipline is a lot more complicated than it seems. The main difficulty stems from the two-race meeting format. With the reverse-grid system, the driver who is on pole for the first race starts from tenth position in the second race. When you are back in the chasing pack, you need to know how to avoid the traps set by the other drivers if you are to get back to the front. That's probably why the experienced drivers tend to monopolise the top places.
The skill of the driver also seems to be very important…
Unlike most track cars, the WTCCs are front-wheel drives. That means that the front tyres wear down quickly, as they are used both for steering and for drive force. The driver has to adapt accordingly to manage the wear of his tyres throughout the race. I think that the 2014 regulations will be more lenient in this regard, though.
You have now driven the Citroen C-Elysée WTCC. What was it like to drive?
Compared to what I've experienced in recent seasons, the car is lighter, more powerful and more efficient in terms of aerodynamics. It also has wider tyres and bigger brakes. In short, everything is better and this new generation will be a lot faster than the current car. It's still a touring car, with life made a little bit easier for the driver. My first impressions are that the Citroen C-Elysée WTCC is a good base to work from and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the development sessions.
Do you remember when you first met Sebastien Loeb?
Yes, it was in the late nineties, at an Andros Trophy race in the Vosges. We belonged to the same club and our President came to introduce me to the 'rising star'. I followed his rise and today I can only admire what he has done in his career. He has been world champion nine times! That is some achievement. My own stats are good, but nowhere near as good as what Seb has achieved.
It is rare to have two drivers with such well-stocked trophy cabinets in the same team. How do you see this partnership working?
I'm sure it will work very well. We are big boys with little left to prove and we know what working for a manufacturer is all about. You have to think about the brand above all else, and that's what I've always done. Obviously, I would prefer to end up on top of the podium, but the main goal is for the team to win. Solidarity between team-mates is one of the keys to success.
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