Road to Hockenheim: Gary Paffett
The fans may look forward to witnessing a real DTM festival, in the season finale at Hockenheim and thrilling racing up to the last corner of the final lap. With Paul Di Resta, Gary Paffett (both Mercedes-AMG) and René Rast (Audi), three drivers travel to Hockenheim with realistic chances of winning the title. DTM.com takes a close look at the title contenders’ individual courses of the season.
In 2005, his third season on the grid of the series, Gary Paffett was just 24 years old and won the DTM Drivers’ Championship. In those days, the question when the likable Briton’s would make his final step on the motor-racing ladder seemed to be a mere formality. After having worked one year as full-time F1 test and reserve driver for McLaren-Mercedes, however, Paffett returned to DTM, keen on winning the 2007 title but – but never made it back to the very top. In 2009, 2010 and 2012 he finished runner-up and afterwards, his performances deteriorated. Paffett had to settle for being just a midfield driver and three times he even only made it to a two-digit position in the championship. A situation he should change this year. Paffett held the championship lead after the season opener and wants to be back in this position when the season finale is over.
The today 37-year old family man had one hand on the championship trophy throughout the year. He secured pole in the Saturday qualifying session at Hockenheim and won the race, thus underlining his ambitions for the first time. In the second race, on Sunday, he finished second behind Timo Glock. In the first third of the season, Paffett and the BMW driver thrilled the DTM enthusiasts with a fantastic battle for the top position in the championship. Paffett took the lead in the Saturday race at Budapest but Glock struck back on Sunday. At the Norisring, however, Glock failed to deliver and Paffett finally could consolidate his championship lead.
Paffett defended his lead up to and including the Saturday race at Misano. But having to leave Misano absolutely empty-handed was a heavy blow for his title ambitions he had established with three race wins and three further podiums. In the meantime, fellow Mercedes-AMG driver Paul Di Resta who had made a poor start into the season, closed in on him on him. With wins at Brands Hatch and in the Saturday round at Misano he closed the gap to Paffett – and on Sunday he even took the lead.
But Paffett definitely has got a lot of fighting spirit and after the Nürburgring meeting he was back in the lead as Di Resta failed to score in one of the races held in the Eifel. At the same time, reigning champion René Rast upstaged both Mercedes-AMG drivers by winning four consecutive races at the Nürburgring and in the penultimate race meeting at Spielberg. With two third places, Paffett cut his losses but also had to cope with a poor result as he finished 10thin the Saturday race in Austria.
Prior to the season finale, Paffett holds second position in the championship, just four points behind Di Resta. Other than the Scot, Paffett already succeeded in shining at Hockenheim, this year and so, his chances of finally winning his long-awaited second title still look absolutely promising. And in addition, Paffett certainly will be tired of finishing second...