The McLaren team today announced that it has signed 2005 DTM Champion Gary Paffet to become the team's official test driver. Paffet is likely going to replace Alexander Wurz who is still negotiating with the team about his future.
Gary's relationship with the team began in December 1999 when he was awarded the prestigious 'McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award'. As a result of winning the Award, Gary conducted his first Formula One test with Team McLaren Mercedes in 2000 and since then he has helped the team with both its testing and simulation work on a regular basis. In 2003 Gary joined Mercedes-Benz in the DTM Championship and went on to claim the title in 2005.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity and the challenges ahead," said Gary. "This is the culmination of my continuous relationship with McLaren and Mercedes-Benz. For my efforts to be officially recognised by one of the most successful Formula One teams and reaching my goal of getting a regular Formula One seat is a fantastic feeling. I have really enjoyed my time in the DTM Championship and being able to also continue my relationship with Mercedes-Benz in this manner is the icing on the cake. I'm 100 per cent committed to my role as a Team McLaren Mercedes test driver and can't wait to start the 2006 testing programme. I want to thank everybody who has helped me achieve this goal - it wouldn't have been possible without their support."
"We are certain that Gary is the right choice as Team McLaren Mercedes test driver and are pleased to welcome him to the team," said Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes. "In order to achieve our objective of winning races and World Championship we have to employ the best drivers available and Gary definitely fits into this category. He has been involved with McLaren and Mercedes-Benz since winning the 'McLaren Autosport Young Driver Award' and we are pleased that the right opportunity came along at the right time. Gary is committed to the work laying ahead of him and everybody at McLaren look forward to his contribution."
"Whilst we are pleased to welcome Gary to the team, we are still in discussion with Alex Wurz regarding his future and will announce our plans in due course," continues Martin Whitmarsh.
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport said: "Gary deserved his chance and he has seized it. In the last two years in the DTM Championship he proved his talent against tough competition. Since he started taking part in the team's Formula One tests on the 28th November, Gary has completed a total of more than 1,100 kilometres and convinced the team of his capabilities. His promotion to the Formula One team demonstrates that DTM is also a springboard for young talents who can make their way through touring cars to the top category of motor sport."