Well think again. The 43-year-old is contesting Rallye de France Alsace, round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship, for the third consecutive year in a MINI John Cooper Works WRC. Here are five things you might not know about him.
1: His elder sister is almost as fast as he is
Cathy Muller was extremely handy in Formula 3, Formula 3000 and Indy Lights in the late 1980s, but packed in her racing career to start a family. Now that she’s got a little more time on her hands, she’s still involved in motorsport as her brother’s manager. Expect to see both Mullers on Rallye de France.
2: He’s got more in common with Sebastien Loeb than you might think
Both are from Alsace: Muller’s hometown of Altkirch is only about 150 kilometres away from Haguenau, where Loeb grew up. With Citroen looking to enter the World Touring Car Championship - the series that Muller has made his own - Muller and Loeb might be seeing a lot more of each other in future.
3: You’d better not cross him
Muller seems the calmest person you could meet, but you really don’t want to upset him. He had a well-publicised feud with fellow touring car racer Jason Plato when they were both competing in the British Touring Car Championship from 1998-2005, regularly expressing his point of view via the judicious use of a middle finger. The fans loved him for it.
4: He’d love to drive in NASCAR
Muller had a one-off outing in the Euro Racecar series this summer: Europe’s answer to NASCAR. He loved it - unsurprisingly given that he had a 5.7-litre V8 engine at his disposal, developing 450 horsepower. The very next day, he went off to compete in the Le Mans Classic with a Chevrolet Corvette. That’s a proper devotion to American motorsport for you. He finished third in both races.
5: He gives photographers frostbite
Even though Kimi Raikkonen has gone back to Formula One, rallying still has its own iceman. We’re not talking about Muller’s 10 ice racing titles (a world record) either. When Muller was doing some winter filming in Sweden recently, French photographer Mathieu Petitin came away with a unique souvenir. “I could only use thin gloves and the ice from Yvan’s car sprayed over me,” recounted the unfortunate snapper. “Then I lost all feeling in my hand.” Thanks to the skill of Swedish doctors, the finger was eventually saved.