DTM – Abt racing engineer: First Schumi fan, now Flörsch whisperer

She guided Sophia Flörsch through the DTM: Race engineer Laura Müller was the woman at Sophia Flörsch’s side at Abt-Audi. At the Norisring, the German clinched two points again on race Sunday with ninth place – under her own steam! With eight points she finished the championship in 18th place. We spoke to Laura Müller about Flörsch, women in motorsport and Michael Schumacher.

Laura Müller, you were Sophia Flörsch’s race engineer in the DTM this season. How did you get into motorsport?
A family friend had a Formula King and Formula 4 team, so I went to the racetrack a few times as a child. I also grew up when Michael Schumacher grew up in Formula 1. So I watched Formula 1 every weekend and dreamed of becoming the first woman in Formula 1. Since Wikipedia didn’t exist yet, I couldn’t check that there was already one (laughs). But I did not pursue it any further. Instead, I studied mechanical engineering to get into motorsport. In 2014 I did an internship at Phoenix in the DTM. From then on I knew I wanted to do that.

Laura Müller

Are you proud to be a race engineer in the DTM? After all, the DTM is considered the most important German racing series …
I’m not that proud of the racing series I work in, but of what you achieve. I did the 24 Hours of Le Mans at DragonSpeed ​​in 2020, which was a bigger success for me than a sprint race. The effort is greater, but so is the responsibility.

What do you have to be particularly good at as a race engineer?
It is said that race engineers are mostly psychologists. One of our main tasks is to work with the drivers. During the sessions, you can motivate him to drive faster by wrapping it up well to poke him. Between the sessions it is about what is important to the driver, how things are prioritized. With Sophia I was able to learn over the season to understand a driver better, to work for him, and not just to make the car better.

How does Sophia tick? Does she need clear announcements or do you have to be sensitive to her?
I’m not at all sensitive (laughs). But she needs clear announcements, it helps a lot if she can bite into something. With Lucas di Grassi in a garage, for example, there was a small internal competition on the last two race weekends to see who was ahead. You can tell that she gets faster if you tell her that she is only a tenth of a second behind Lucas.

So it’s mainly the little aids?
Drivers are competitors. When I tell her that she is seven tenths of a second away from Kelvin, that doesn’t push like a goal that can be achieved in the medium term.

How complicated is it to work together, does she have freaks too?
Only if you talk to her when she is at the braking point. Of course I try to be considerate. But there have been moments when she says: “Don’t f ***** talk to me”.

Do you feel personally attacked?
No. You can’t do that in this job – I personally feel attacked. Because you are attacked all the time, no matter when and where.

Are you mentally sitting next to Sophia in the cockpit?
It depends: in a race where you can fight for positions, I scream all the time, yes. Of course I don’t yell Sophia into the radio, but the screen or the data engineer next to me sometimes have to listen to something (laughs).

Laura Müller with Sophia Flörsch.

How did you develop together with Sophia as a duo this year?
First you have to find yourself, learn what makes the other tick. It’s like a friendship or partnership. Then comes the question: Do I hurt the other person sometimes? In any case, I’ve learned to be more structured. I don’t just have to coordinate Sophia, but the whole team around her.

Do you have to be able to go out for a beer together?
That depends on the type of driver. We can drink beer together. But don’t go on vacation. The age difference is too big. If she comes to me with any TikTok hashtags, I’m out.

As a race engineer, does that bother you when the focus is on social media?
I think it would have been good for her to try a race weekend this year without social media, just to check: Can I concentrate better then? Will my performance be better then? But I also understand that social media is part of the overall racing driver package these days.

How do you see your development as a racing driver in general this season?
In any case, I see a lot of progress because she learned to bite her way through. She got a lot of bad press. She can handle that better now. What doesn’t hurt: Always concentrate on yourself and analyze where you can still improve. Then the rest will come naturally. By the way, I tell her that myself.

So, in addition to a technical job, is a race engineer also a girl for everything?
Yes. Sometimes I have to take care of the tires, other times I pick up Sophia from the airport. But my mechanical engineering degree wasn’t in vain (laughs). I don’t design anything, but you have to understand the background, such as tire pressures or thermodynamics. If you have no idea about driving dynamics, you don’t know how to tune the car at all.
You said that your goal is Formula 1: who would you like to work with?
I would love to work with Danny Ricciardo, but that would be too funny. I already worked with Lando Norris in Formula Renault. McLaren, Ferrari: something like that would be a dream. It should be a real challenge.

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