Gary Paffett is a DTM and test and reserve driver for McLaren in Formula One. He currently leads the DTM championship by three points, with the final round taking place on the 21st October at Hockenheim. This week’s Scrutineering takes a look at Paffett’s racing career, his season so far, and what the fans think and say about him!
British Junior TKM Championship (1994 – 1996)
The TKM karting class was started up in 1989 and Gary Paffett joined it in 1994. Current McLaren driver Jenson Button won the championship in 1992 and, after coming second in 1994, Paffett took the title in 1995. In 1996 he won the McLaren Mercedes Champion of the Future award in the Intercontinental Class, an award which the likes of Lewis Hamilton has won.
Formula Vauxhall and Formula Three (1997 – 2002)
In 1997 Paffett made the move to the Formula Vauxhall Junior Winter Series – his first foray into single seaters – and he won the championship, along with the best newcomer award. He had a dominating 1998 season, winning thirteen races, and became the Formula Vauxhall Junior Class B champion. He made it three in a row in 1999, once again winning the championship but this time he had been promoted to the Formula Vauxhall Junior Class. He had another strong season on track and at the end of it he was selected as the BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year. This award was set up in 1989, and has been awarded to the likes of David Coulthard, Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and Oliver Turvey, amongst others, in recognition of the talent of young racing drivers from the UK. The prize includes a trophy and money, along with a test drive in a McLaren Formula One car.
In 2000 Paffett moved to the British F3 championship, winning the Scholarship class, before moving to the German F3 championship. He came sixth in his first season and went on to win it in 2002. This was to be his last single seater championship (to date).
DTM (2003 – 2005, 2007 – present)
Paffett was signed to join Team Rosberg in DTM for 2003, driving a year old car. In 2004, in an up-to-date car he finished second place overall for HWA, remaining with the team for 2005. With five wins, and four other podiums, Paffett won the DTM championship in his third season, beating Mattias Ekström, the 2004 champion, by thirteen points. Paffett returned to the championship in 2007, after becoming McLaren test driver, and he became the first ever driver to win a race in a year old car in the championship. He has had mixed fortunes since 2005, with ninth place in 2007 and 2008, and then second in 2009 and 2010. In 2011 he came seventh, but currently leads the 2012 championship by three points from Bruno Spengler. He has two wins and three other podiums (as well as two podiums at non-championship races) and has finished in the points at every round apart from Valencia.
DTM Career Statistics
Fastest Laps: 7
Formula One (2006 – present)
Paffett won a test drive for the McLaren team when he was named the BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year, and after he won the DTM championship, he was awarded the role of test driver for the team. This meant that he was unable to defend his 2005 title. Since 2007 he has combined the two – racing in DTM while carrying out his testing duties for the team, which he used to share with Pedro de la Rosa, who now races for HRT. Paffett has also regularly attended the Young Driver Test for the team and is present at a number of the pre-season tests. He works a lot in the simulator so having him in the car is useful for the team in order to corroborate the data found.
What the fans say!
- He always works hard for McLaren but doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves by fans
- His DTM car looks “pretty cool this year”
- He won the DTM championship in 2005
- Can be funny on Twitter
- He raced for Team Rosberg – what a team!
- Really hope he wins the 2012 DTM championship
- He should get a chance in Formula One as a race driver
- Love the fact that, during free practice for the Japanese GP he was at the McLaren Technology Centre at 2am, waiting to get in the simulator – dedication.
- He offers great insight
- An integral part of the McLaren team – only been with them for seven seasons but feels like forever