2015 sees a new change for Britain’s Gary Paffett, as he will be switching to the newly-recruited ART GP outfit for the forthcoming Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) campaign.
He makes the move to the team, who were announced to join Mercedes-Benz back in November last year, after having raced for eight seasons during his DTM career with HWA, including his title win back in 2005.
The Suffolk-based driver took the majority of his DTM career wins with the squad, with the exception of winning with Persson Motorsport at Oscherleben in 2007. But it’s a fresh challenge for Paffett, who spoke with TouringCars.net about his move to the new outfit.
“As soon as ART said that they were joining the series, I was quite interested in them and what they were doing,” said Paffett. “I’ve known Frédéric Vasseur for a long time, and we get on very well, even though I’ve not raced for him before.
“They are a very experienced team and they have a lot of good engineers and their technical background is very strong, winning at every thing that they do.”
There is no shortage of ambition for Paffett, as well as ART Grand Prix, who have won in multiple championships, securing victories and titles, which includes the F3 Euroseries, GP2 and GP3: “Their ambition is very high, so I hope that I can use my experience in the DTM to help them get up to speed and to be at the level of performance that we expect to be at as soon as possible.
“I think that we can challenge this year to be the leading Mercedes car, as we are not there to make up the numbers.It’s a great opportunity for me to help the team.”
Maximilian Götz and Lucas Auer are the newest faces to join the ranks of Stuttgart’s renewed assault on the DTM this year, as announced earlier this week. At the same time, Mercedes has taken the opportunity to shake up its driver line-up. Paffett will be joined by rookie Auer at ART, whilst Götz joins Daniel Juncadella at Mücke Motorsport. Paul Di Resta, Robert Wickens, Christian Vietoris and Pascal Wehrlein all remain at HWA. Vitaly Petrov, as the only driver who failed to score a point in 2014, has been dropped by Mercedes ahead of the 2015 season.
Even with the fact that he is moving to ART, Paffett said that the Mercedes-Benz ranks are even closer together in how they work and that with the restructuring it will continue this way to move forward. “We are trying to achieve the goals we set as soon as possible. We’re a close knit team now in Mercedes and we all had to pull together over what was a tough year.
“But we are going to continue that way of working, trying to share as much information as possible to move forward together to get the most out of all eight Mercedes cars. There’s no blaming anyone for what happened last year, but there is a lot of motivation for this season which includes me joining ART for this year.”
On the news that Paffett announced that he was joining ART, Vasseur himself said that the Brit was the team’s preferred choice when it came to making the decision regarding their line-up for this year.
“With his abilities and his experience, he is the perfect driver for us to build up our team in DTM,” said Vasseur. “He is a great leader and team player and I am sure that we will have a successful partnership.”