Gary Paffett admits that he has ‘mixed feelings’ ahead of his last race for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM this weekend, with the marque’s departure looming over the title battle between Paffett and Paul di Resta.
Paffett heads to Hockenheim with as four-point deficit to Di Resta in the drivers’ standings, although he has led the championship for more of the season than his Scottish rival, with Di Resta only re-emerging at the top of the table in Austria.
Whilst Paffett is looking to secure his second DTM title, to add to his 2005 triumph, he admits that the exit of Mercedes makes it an unusual feeling ahead of the showdown weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to the upcoming race weekend, although I obviously have mixed feelings,” said Paffett. “It’s the last race weekend of the season, which is always a strange feeling, but mostly because it’s the last race weekend for Mercedes in the DTM, which also ends my 15 years with Mercedes in the series.
“It’s a massive weekend for everybody, and it will be very emotional come Sunday when the chequered flag falls.”
Paffett will also have to watch out for the resurgent René Rast, with the Audi driver having won all of the last four races to haul himself back into title contention, albeit with the reigning champion only having an outside shot at the title.
“Obviously, there is the championship battle going on. I’m firmly in the fight for the championship with Paul and also René. There is nothing to separate me and Paul, and based on recent performances, I think it is going to be a close fight between us.”
Paffett hopes to be able to help Mercedes exit with a win, to add to the nine wins that the dominant Stuttgart marque has already secured this year.
“The most important thing going into the weekend is that we try and get the championship for Mercedes. Hopefully I am the one that can come out on top on Sunday.
“It’s going to be an intense weekend for everyone in the team, including myself, but I am really looking forward to it.
“Hockenheim is a circuit that we know really well, a circuit that our car goes well on, and a circuit that I have already won at this year.
“I am very confident that I can go there and be strong, and that I have a very good chance of winning the championship.”