Newly crowned DTM champion Gary Paffett's hopes of making the switch to Formula One in the near future have been handed a massive boost with McLaren promising him a test this winter.
Paffett earned major plaudits when he tested for McLaren in December 2002 and January 2003, but the chances of landing a full-time test deal fell through when he decided to hold out on the chance of a Jordan race drive instead.
That Jordan opportunity eventually came to nothing, and he also missed out on a chance at Sauber last season after earning high praise from team boss Peter Sauber, but Paffett has made no secret that his priority is still on F1.
And after clinching the DTM title at Hockenheim last weekend, Paffett has been given a fresh opportunity to impress F1 figures with Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug offering him a run with McLaren.
"I can savour the achievement of winning the championship and look forward to the test, because it is a step in the right direction to Formula One, which is where I want to be eventually," said Paffett, who still has another year to run on his DTM contract with Mercedes-Benz.
"Let's see what happens. At the moment, it looks like I'll be defending my title in the DTM, because there are no race seats available in F1 next year. That in itself will be a massive challenge for myself and the team, who I have to thank for giving me such a fantastic car this year."
Haug has nothing but praise for the job that Paffett has done this year.
"Gary showed his class today and he is the man of the year," he explained. "He deserves the title in what was a challenging and demanding year."