Paffett didn't have DTM return ambitions until 'short notice' deal

Two-time DTM champion Gary Paffett says he "didn’t have ambitions" to return to the new-look series' GT3 era, until a deal was put together at "short notice" in February.

Paffett didn't have DTM return ambitions until 'short notice' deal

Paffett was a part of Mercedes’ line-up for the majority of its factory participation in the revived DTM, completing 15 successive seasons in the series between 2003 and 2018.

During that period, the 2005 and 2018 champion scored 23 wins, 48 podiums and 17 pole positions, bowing out as champion when Mercedes exited the DTM at the end of 2018.

Following the Stuttgart marque’s exit, Paffett continued to represent the brand in Formula E and Intercontinental GT Challenge the following year, racing for the affiliated HWA team in the former.

But both of Paffett’s programmes lasted a single campaign and he sat out the entire 2020 season, with his outing in Kyalami 9 Hours in November of 2019 remaining his last competitive outing.

Speaking during the two-day pre-season test at Hockenheim, the 40-year-old Briton said he didn’t plan on rejoining the DTM this year amid the uncertainty around what regulations the series would adopt following the demise of the Class One era.

However, he was informed of a potential vacancy by Mercedes customer racing boss Stefan Wendl in late February and concluded a deal with Mucke Motorsport to race a factory-supported Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the German championship.

“It was quite short notice,” Paffett said when asked how his DTM deal came together. “It certainly wasn’t on the back of my mind for a long time. 

“After the DTM finished effectively in its old format last season, I think nobody knew what was going to happen to the DTM, if it would survive, how it would continue as a series. I didn't have ambitions and plans to come back because I didn't know what sort of series it would be.

Gary Paffett, Mücke Motorsport, Mercedes AMG GT3

Gary Paffett, Mücke Motorsport, Mercedes AMG GT3

Photo by: DTM

“But as the series took shape over the winter and they started to get more interest from different brands and we saw some top drivers being announced, it looked more interesting. 

"About a month ago I got a call from Stefan Wendl to say there are entering some cars in the DTM and there is a car with Mucke Motorsport and they’d like me to come and race. And that was the start of it.

“It was about a month ago, I was actually out in Saudi [Arabia] for the Formula E race [as Mercedes reserve driver] when I got the call. So it’s been a bit of back and forth in the last few weeks to try and sort it out, and then finally we are here.“

With 186 race starts under his belt, Paffett will be the second-most experienced driver on the DTM grid this year, only behind 2013 champion and Abt Audi’s new signing Mike Rockenfeller.

However, Paffett doesn’t think his previous stint in the DTM with silhouette cars will be of much use in its new GT3 guise.

“I think the experience in racing in general in motorsport helps a lot whether it’s in DTM or GT3 or anything, any experience you gain helps you going forward,” he said.

“With regards to specific experience for this season I’m not sure much of it counts. 

“The cars that aren’t like the DTM cars we raced before. The racing will be more similar to GT3 racing [in other championships] rather than the DTM racing we’ve had.

“The tyre is very different. I’m not sure the DTM experience before will help a lot.”

shares
comments

Related video

Albon: Red Bull reserve role more important than DTM for F1 return
Previous article

Albon: Red Bull reserve role more important than DTM for F1 return

Next article

DTM wants to be fastest GT3 series in 2021

DTM wants to be fastest GT3 series in 2021
The longest-serving Red Bull driver revealing F1’s true brutality Plus

The longest-serving Red Bull driver revealing F1’s true brutality

His day of days in Formula 1 came at Indianapolis in 2005, a day grand prix racing strives to forget. But Patrick Friesacher, the long-serving Red Bull lieutenant, remains active today driving a two-seater that provides ordinary people with a glimpse of an F1 car’s savage potential, including this writer...

Formula 1
Jun 2, 2022
How the DTM has come back stronger from its Norisring nadir Plus

How the DTM has come back stronger from its Norisring nadir

OPINION: Questionable driving standards and farcical team orders meant the DTM's first season under GT3 regulations ended under a cloud. But the organisation has responded firmly by banning team orders and welcomed new manufacturers, making for an intriguing season ahead as new and returning names prepare for battle

DTM
Mar 30, 2022
The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics Plus

The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics

Over two decades as a factory driver with Audi and BMW, Martin Tomczyk earned the respect of team-mates and rivals as a hard but fair racer. After calling time on his racing career, the 2011 DTM champion sat down with Autosport to look back

GT
Mar 5, 2022
The other Hamilton conqueror seeking career revival Plus

The other Hamilton conqueror seeking career revival

On his rise through the ranks before reaching Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton was usually a cut above the rest. But he never truly asserted himself over a Mercedes-backed fellow Briton who traded single-seaters for touring cars and is now seeking new opportunities after a year largely spent on the sidelines

DTM
Dec 18, 2021
How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions Plus

How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions

OPINION: The scenes at the Norisring as Mercedes used blatant team orders to secure the first DTM title of the new GT3 era totally undermined the credibility of the championship. But as well as overshadowing the season, it also presents uncomfortable questions to series bosses about the direction it is headed in

DTM
Oct 12, 2021
How Audi's new DTM star is channeling Rast to achieve his "childhood dream" Plus

How Audi's new DTM star is channeling Rast to achieve his "childhood dream"

Having learned the ropes in GT3 alongside Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde is in line to take up the three-time champion's baton as Audi's new DTM king. From humble origins in South Africa, it's been a remarkable journey so far for the current series leader, but he knows that the 2021 title is a long way from settled just yet

DTM
Sep 18, 2021
The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive Plus

The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive

Switching to GT3 regulations marked a fresh start for the DTM in 2021, but it has also drawn a line in the sand against other series using similar cars by engaging AVL Racing to develop a bespoke Balance of Performance system. Here’s how it works

DTM
Jul 23, 2021
The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars Plus

The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars

OPINION: Facing collapse last year, the DTM has shifted its philosophy from a championship for silhouette-based touring cars to GT machines not too dissimilar to those racing across multiple series worldwide. But despite some initial BoP-based teething troubles, there were some pleasant findings as the 'new DTM' got underway at Monza

DTM
Jun 22, 2021