“I had an incredibly great time in the DTM family” | DTM
2018-10-17 11:15:00

“I had an incredibly great time in the DTM family”

“I had an incredibly great time in the DTM family”

On Sunday afternoon, Gary Paffett was all smiles when he raised the big championship trophy. For the second time after 2005 the Briton secured the DTM with Mercedes-AMG. And consequently, the atmosphere was merry-making. “The party was just great,” said Paffett in the conversation with DTM.com. “Unfortunately it was much shorter for me than a proper championship party should be as I had to travel to Valencia for my first Formula E tests on Monday.”

The title triumph was followed by a burst of enthusiasm

Right after the presentation ceremony Paffett had to face a first burst of enthusiasm. In addition to personal congratulations, his mobile phone was virtually brimmed with messages. “It’s not easy, today, as there aren’t only sms’ but also WhatsApp, the Facebook messenger and far more platforms. I was congratulated by both close friends and people I haven’t met for years. Therefore, it took me quite a while to answer all these messages. “Marco came to me right after the race to congratulate me wholeheartedly,” Paffett recalls, “And René also was happy for me. The guys raced against me throughout the season. Therefore, this means a lot to me.”

At the end of the day, Paffett hadn’t much time to think about the coup de main he executed this year. “I will come to terms with it step by step – every time when I think about it. I worked hard for this title throughout the year: And in the end I succeeded for the second time in achieving something that hasn’t been achieved by many others.” Although he clinched his first title 13 years ago he still remembers this triumph exactly. “It was far easier, then. I won the title early. This year the battle for the title was far closer.”

Points scored in the early stages of the season and later, he smartly defended his top position

Paffett laid the foundation for his title with a win and a third place in the season kick-off at Hockenheim. He added further race wins at the Lausitzring and Zandvoort to his tally and secured a total of 10 podiums. “The HWA guys did a perfect job, this winter,” he praised his crew. “The rule changes with the limited aerodynamics represented quite a challenge. But they succeeded in understanding the changes quickly and put all their experience in the balance. Therefore, I had a really good start into the season.”

This situation changed, however, in the second half of the season. From the Nürburgring meeting, René Rast proved to be unstoppable and started an amazing comeback. “I quickly realised that René would be a bigger threat in the battle for the title than Paul. René just had the momentum, in the closing stages of the season.” Paffett regards the tyre-regulation changes introduced at the Nürburgring as one factor that helped Audi to up the ante. “Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that these changes were introduced to harm us. I don’t want to be misunderstood. But the changes just benefited Audi more than us. They change the way a car worked. In the qualifying I still was very competitive but in the races our pace suffered.” “Therefore, damage control was the top priority for the last two races. “In the final race I just tried to stay as close behind René as possible.”

The race on Sunday proved to be a real thriller for Paffett. Together with his team he analysed all the constellations that would bring him the title. “In the opening stages, when René was only second, I could relax as finishing seventh would have been enough for me. But then René took the lead. Nonetheless, this also wasn’t a problem as I early opened a big gap on fourth place. But with just three more laps to go I became somewhat flustered as Nico suddenly appeared in my rear-view mirror. I then focused on watching if he kept on closing in on me. But this wasn’t the case and so I could be relaxed on the final lap with its very emotional moments.”

Difficult retirement from DTM – Paffett abides by Mercedes-Benz

After 30 years, Mercedes-AMG retires from DTM. Having raced 15 years in the series, bidding farewell is anything but easy for the Briton – but he is of the opinion that he hasn’t got an alternative. “I had an incredibly great time in the DTM family. The cars are powerful and spectacular. Thanks to the involvement of the manufacturers the DTM grid features many top-class racing drivers. The racing is extremely close and that’s something every driver wants. I possibly could have had the possibility to join another DTM team. But for me, it always was clear that I wanted to abide by Mercedes, after the last 15 years. My heart is beating for the star. And therefore, I will continue to pursue my career with them.

So, Paffett’s now will make the step to Formula E. As early as on Tuesday he executed his first tests for HWA Racelab. “Familiarising with the new car was difficult,” admits Paffett. “The aerodynamics, the performance and the power train, just the complete system – compared to DTM I now have entered a completely different world. I had a lot of wheel spin, on my first laps. After 15 years I now am back feeling like a rookie – at the age of 37. That’s a big challenge I have to face now.”

Gary Paffett sagt danke

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