"Skateboarding on my own front wing" - Nico Müller escapes 27-g accident uninjured and explains cause
In addition to a thrilling multi-fight for victory, many Formula E fans will probably remember one scene from the Portland E-Prix in particular: the huge crash of ABT Cupra driver Nico Müller. After an examination in the medical centre, the Swiss driver described the course of the accident. Regarding an initially suspected brake failure on the customer's Mahindra, ex-driver Daniel Abt found clear words on German TV. Ultimately, however, the accident was presumably related to an earlier front wing damage.
Shortly after the first safety car phase, the field accelerated on the back straight - actually a slightly inclined high-speed right turn. Nico Müller came slightly off the track on the outside lane and then slid at high speed across the grass. He then hit the track barrier - fortunately at an oblique angle and not head-on. Nevertheless, the sensors measured centrifugal forces of 27 g upon impact.
After the impact, the car initially rolled on across the grass and back onto the track, where it ultimately came to a stop. Although the ABT bolide later had to be towed away with severe damage, Müller was able to get out quickly and under his own power. Shortly before, he had still radioed to his team, "I had no more braking and just went straight!"
Müller: "Biggest crash in a very long time"
"He jumped out of the car quite fast, because he was a bit afraid that at in the position where he was standing, other cars would come," explained ABT team principal Thomas Biermaier still during the race on German TV broadcast at ProSieben: "That was a huge crash. But he is fine - that's the most important thing. He's on his way to the medical centre, but I think that's normal (for such an impact)."
With a bit of distance between him and the race, Müller was already able to joke again and described the accident with a vivid metaphor: "(It was my) biggest crash in a very long time. I was skateboarding on my own front wing. A part of the wing went under the car, making me lose control at over 200 kph and sending me straight into the wall. Gutted for the whole team, but I am physically fine", he tweeted.
"We had a strong performance all weekend, but all that's left is a lot of damage to the car and a lot of work for the guys. Without this incident, we would have had a good chance of points as well", Müller said.
On the cause of the accident, Biermaier could also only speculate: "Due to the fact that he got out off the car so quickly, we didn't really get much information from him. We only heard that he had no braking effect, but we don't know why. Maybe it had something to do with the front wing damage we caught earlier." When asked by e-Formula.news, the team later suggested that part of the front wing may have gotten under the car making it unable for Müller to steer. ABT in fact ruled out a brake failure.
Daniel Abt hits out against software developers
Those who follow Formula E closely may remember various scenes this season in which Mahindra cars crashed after brake failure. In the free practice sessions in Portland, too, it was mainly the cars with powertrains from the Indian manufacturer that attracted attention with locking wheels at the end of the start and finish straight. Fortunately, there was no wall there, so Lucas di Grassi and Roberto Merhi were able to take shortcuts in each case.
In combination with Müller's radio message that he lost the braking, many fans might have concluded that it was once again a software problem. Ex-Formula E driver and TV pundit Daniel Abt also fell for this supposed fallacy. In the livestream of ProSieben, he explained: "This is really unbelievable. You should send a bill directly to the software department that builds such cars."
When asked by commentator Tobi Schimon who exactly he was addressing, Abt replied, "They will know who I mean. It's happened so many times before." Regardless of the fact that a damage like Müller's costs a lot of money, the former ABT, Audi and Nio 333 driver criticized the fact that "drivers' lives are always being put at risk." "It simply can't be right to put the health and well-being of drivers in the hands of some software people who don't do their job in such a way that (...) the drivers can drive safely around the corner here. That is simply a no-go," Abt said.