Paffett: “I want to win the title”
With four more races to be contested – at Spielberg and in the season finale at Hockenheim – the lead of Gary Paffett (206 points) over Paul Di Resta (204) amounts to just two points. At the Nürburgring, both championship leaders experienced a weekend of mixed emotions. “I travelled to the Nürburgring as second in the DTM standings and left it as championship leader. Therefore, I can regard the Nürburgring meeting as successful. Nonetheless, I could have done better by increasing my lead. But I passed Paul and have got the feeling that my pace was better than his, at the Ring,” said Gary Paffett whose biggest championship rival in the early stages of the season was Timo Glock. The BMW driver held the lead after four of the first six races of the season. In the meantime, Glock (119 points) dropped back to sixth place.
On Saturday, Paffett, the 2005 DTM Champion, qualified second with his Mercedes-AMG and in the race he finished third after successfully fending off the pressurising Timo Glock. On Sunday, however, the 37-year old encountered a dose of bad luck. His obligatory pit stop, on lap 19, lasted unending 11.1 seconds as the pit crew had problems with the right rear wheel and he rejoined the race in sixth position instead of in second, behind René Rast. At the end of the day he had to settle for finishing fifth behind BMW’s Bruno Spengler.
Pit-top mistake cost Paffett five positions
“You are sitting in the car, listen to the crew changing the tyres and watch the guys moving. You are waiting and get ready to go again – and then, you just can’t do so. The seconds lapse, you are passed by the others and there is nothing you can do. After such a mistake, nobody feels worse than the guys of the pit crew as they have been training hard for the stops throughout the year. We have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Anyway, making mistakes is human. But it’s really annoying if such a mistake costs you five positions on the track,” Paffett later described the mistake of his crew.
Paffett: “The first to beat is your team-mate”
13 years after his only DTM title so far, Paffett proves to be very ambitious. He puts it in a nutshell: “I don’t believe that my future depends on winning the title. But I definitely want to win it.” Paffett thinks that the expected extremely tough battle between him and Di Resta in the closing stages of the season will make an impact on their relationship as both drivers are true professionals. “We have known each other for a very long time. We are friends who also speak about private things during the course of a race weekend. But we also are rivals. And the team-mate always is the first driver you have to beat. When competing with other drivers you always can use the excuse that his car was better. But if you are defeated by your team-mate he did a better job. It’s a close battle on a healthy basis.”
Di Resta ready to be ruthless if necessary
On Saturday Di Resta still raged after he was turned around by BMW’s Philipp Eng on lap 12 and had to settle for finishing last (“His tactic was simple: I was his enemy number one. That was really unfair. I would have wished that he’d display more sportsmanship”) the Sunday ran far better for the Scot. He was 11th on the grid but worked his way up to finish second, in the end. “That was a nice compensation. I hope that the Saturday won’t turn out to be crucial, at the end of the day. I you hold fourth position and are virtually pushed out of the race... I could make for damage limitation in the Sunday race and so, my position still is really promising. You have to be ready to fight to be able should it be necessary in the battle for the title. And should I have to be ruthless I will do so.”
The Mercedes-AMG drivers are awed by René Rast
At the same time, both Mercedes-AMG drivers keep an eye on their rear-view mirrors where they can see Audi’s René Rast closing in on them with seven-league boots, following his perfect Nürburgring weekend. With 149 points on his tally, the reigning champion now already holds third position in the championship. “René was the most successful driver in the last eight races. You mustn’t underestimate him. Due to the new tyre-pressure regulations, the fight for the title is even closer than before. But that’s how it is and the situation is the same for everybody. At Spielberg, we possibly will have to cope with different weather conditions and further surprises. And it’s a well-known fact that you also never know at Hockenheim in October. Furthermore, everybody could have to cope with the bad luck I had on the Saturday of the Nürburgring meeting. You never can feel safe,” says Di Resta and Paffett adds: “If he should keep on delivering on this level in the final two race meetings he will get really close. He currently is on an impressive roll. But in the Sunday qualifying session I was just sixth thousandths of a second slower than him and we could have won the race. Had we done so you wouldn’t ask me so many questions on René, now.”