Paffett reveals story behind unlikely DTM return

Gary Paffett says he didn’t originally intend to race in the new-look DTM and it was only a phone call in late February that put in motion a series of events that secured his return to the series.

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 ‘18.

During that period, the British driver scored 23 wins, 48 podiums and 17 pole positions, bowing out as a two-time champion when Mercedes exited the DTM at the end of 2018.

Following the Stuttgart-based marque’s exit from the DTM, 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 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 was able to conclude 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.

“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.“

Read Also:

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 on his return to what is now a GT3-based series.

“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.”

Gary Paffett, Mücke Motorsport

Gary Paffett, Mücke Motorsport

Photo by: DTM

shares
comments
Gallery: New GT3 era of DTM begins

Previous article

Gallery: New GT3 era of DTM begins

Next article

Albon: Reserve duties will play bigger role than DTM in F1 return

Albon: Reserve duties will play bigger role than DTM in F1 return
Load comments
How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream" Prime

How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on 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 Prime

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 Prime

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
Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM Prime

Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM

The DTM moves into its bold new GT3 era with welcome support from Red Bull, which enters two AF Corse-run Ferraris. That includes one for ex-F1 driver Alex Albon, who’s determined to make a success of his GT switch

DTM
Jun 17, 2021
The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king Prime

The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king

It's taken him a while to emerge as a consistent title challenger, but in the final year of DTM's Class One ruleset, Nico Muller has smoothed the rough edges and has double champion stablemate Rene Rast working harder than ever to keep up in the title race.

DTM
Oct 14, 2020
Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis? Prime

Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis?

It's 20 years since the DTM roared back into life at a packed Hockenheim with a back-to-basics approach as the antidote to its high-tech past. Now it's on its knees again, so is it time to recall the lessons learned in 2000?

DTM
May 28, 2020
Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers Prime

Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers

Audi last week announced it would be exiting the DTM at the end of 2020, bringing the curtain down on 20 years of continuous participation since the series' reboot in 2000.

DTM
May 5, 2020
Why the DTM must reinvent itself after Audi exit Prime

Why the DTM must reinvent itself after Audi exit

Audi's announcement that it will withdraw from the DTM at the end of 2020 was the latest blow for a series that has lost three manufacturers in as many years. Some major soul-searching will now be required to assess how it can survive.

DTM
Apr 28, 2020