Le Mans, Supercars on Paffett's radar after Mercedes quits DTM

Long-time Mercedes DTM driver Gary Paffett says the German marque's impending exit from the series will give him the opportunity to try his hand at other motorsport disciplines.

Le Mans, Supercars on Paffett's radar after Mercedes quits DTM
Gary Paffett Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Press Conference, Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM

Paffett has been part of Mercedes' DTM line-up since 2003, making him the second-longest serving driver in the tin-top series behind Audi stalwart Mattias Ekstrom.

In that time, the 2005 series champion has not raced outside of the DTM, except for a sole appearance in the Spa 24 Hours for the HTP Mercedes squad last year - although he was a McLaren Formula 1 test driver for many years and has worked with Williams in more recent times.

But with Mercedes announcing that it is to quit the DTM after the 2018 season in favour of a Formula E entry, it leaves Paffett - as well as his five HWA teammates - in need of alternative employment.

"Big shock, no-one expected it to happen, really," Paffett told Motorsport.com about Mercedes' announcement. "Everyone in the team is looking at what they might be doing in the future.

"There’s so much out there I haven’t done yet, and perhaps this is a chance for me to try something else. I haven’t done Le Mans or much endurance racing. I’d like to do that at some point.

"I’ve always said I’d like to have a go at Supercars in Australia. Whether it’s a full-time thing or not I don’t know, but it’s a series I’ve looked at and like the look of.

"I’m not limiting myself to anything in particular, I'm just going to see what’s out there and decide what I want to do going forward. 

"I’m window shopping in a few places, and closer to the time we’ll nail something down."

Asked if he could see himself following Mercedes into Formula E, Paffett replied: "Absolutely.

"It’s up to them to decide who they want to take with them. That’s entirely their decision. But it’s certainly something I would be interested in."

DTM must become less manufacturer-orientated

Mercedes' decision is set to leave Audi and BMW as the only manufacturers remaining in the DTM from 2019 onwards, unless another marque can be enticed to join before then.

Paffett admitted that keeping the series alive with just two brands would be "difficult".

"I hope BMW and Audi put the effort in and try and keep the series alive, because if another one pulls out, there is no series," said the Briton. "It’s down to them, they’re in a difficult position.

"[Series chairman] Gerhard Berger also has a tough job. But I really hope it does survive. It’s been most of my racing life, and I hope it continues for a long time going forward."

Paffett added that making the DTM less manufacturer-centred would be crucial to its long-term health, when asked what changes he would look to make were he in charge of the series.

"It has to change a lot," he said. "It needs to be led less by manufacturers, and more by teams running cars independently of a manufacturer.

"Manufacturers can just pull out, teams are more consistent in what they’re doing."

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