Paffett faces tall task to take German title

German Formula 3 race winner Gary Paffett is confident his ever-improving Rosberg team is capable of mounting a championship challenge this year, but the British ace knows it is not going to be easy

Paffett faces tall task to take German title

Paffett switched to the German series for 2001 due to a lack of competitive drives on home turf and the reigning British F3 Scholarship champ took his debut win at Oschersleben last weekend. However, even with his first victory under his belt, it will be a tall order for Paffett to make up the 33 points to championship leader Toshihiro Kaneishi.

"We'll take every race as it comes," said Paffett, "but to be realistically looking at the title, I need to be top three everywhere for the rest of the season. As I said, anything's possible and it's good for me that the others are making mistakes and losing points."

After a second place on the short circuit at Hockenheim's season-opener and a win at the twisty Oschersleben track, the Team Rosberg Dallara is clearly suited to circuits where power is less important. The team's Renault engine gives away power to its Opel and Honda rivals and could, according to Paffett, be a hindrance in the next few races.

"The next couple of circuits will be tough for us," said Paffett. "The Sachsenring and the Norisring are both engine-dependent circuits. The Sachsenring's changed quite a lot this year, but the uphill straight is the bit that will be most daunting for us."

Paffett's main rivals for the championship include Kaneishi, Pierre Kaffer and Frank Diefenbacher, all of whom competed in the championship last year. The trio occupy the top three slots in the standings and unlike the young Brit, don't have the disadvantage of having to learn the circuit at every race.

"The competition is strong," said Paffett, "especially with drivers like Diefenbacher and Kaneishi who are very experienced and are with teams that have been around a while, so they know what they're doing.

"If you're a little bit off the pace then you're a long way back. If you're just a couple of tenths off then you can lose five or six places. It's very tough and you have to always get that last little bit out of the car."

Despite the challenge facing Paffett, he remains optimistic and the former BRDC McLaren Autosport Award winner is confident the car will get better and better.

"The car will get quicker," he said, "and we've made improvements on the set-up everywhere we've been. There are limits on testing because you can't test at circuits where we race, which is difficult because there aren't many tracks we don't go to. The engine is improving all the time so I think we will get stronger as the year goes on."

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