Tales from the paddock – Gary Paffett: “An incredibly strong weekend, in which you saw the resilience and determination of our guys”

Sep 12, 2018

Only two points separate Gary Paffett and Paul Di Resta in the battle for the DTM championship title. In this week’s interview, Gary reveals who else he thinks is still in the running.

  • This is what happened: Weekend results and facts
  • News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
  • Three questions for Gary Paffett
  • Social media news: What’s new online?

This is what happened: Results and facts

  • DTM: Gary Paffett and Paul Di Resta each come away with one podium finish from the two races at the Nürburgring
  • ADAC GT Masters: Nicolai Sylvest and Kim-Luis Schramm among Top Three in Race 1 at the Sachsenring

News snippets

Singapore, here we come: The night race through the streets of Singapore is one of the standout fixtures in the Formula 1 itinerary. Although the Marina Bay Street Circuit has proved to be challenging for the team in recent seasons, Lewis Hamilton (2014, 2017) and Nico Rosberg (2016) have nonetheless managed to win three of the last four floodlit races in Singapore. With three victories on this track, Lewis trails title rival Sebastian Vettel, who has won in Singapore on four occasions. It is a similar picture as regards to pole positions, in which the score is once again three to Lewis and four to the Ferrari man. Mercedes-powered cars share the lead in terms of victories with Renault (four each) and pole positions with Ferrari (again four each).

Stat Attack – Nürburgring: With 16 of the 20 races in the 2018 DTM now complete, the title chase could hardly be more finely balanced. Paul Di Resta arrived for the third-to-last race weekend of the campaign nine points ahead of Gary Paffett. But after the first of the two races, the lead had changed hands, as Gary moved eight points clear of Paul. By the end of Sunday, the two rivals for the title were separated by only two points. With two events and four races remaining, the outcome of the championship contest between the two former champions is wide open: there are still 112 points up for grabs in the remaining four qualifying sessions and four races.

Drama on Saxony’s rollercoaster: The sixth and penultimate event of the 2018 ADAC GT Masters has just been hosted by the Sachsenring. Both races featured plenty of wheel-to-wheel action and numerous yellow flags. In a tempestuous race on Saturday, which was interrupted by two safety car deployments, Kim-Luis Schramm (GER) and Nicolai Sylvest (DEN) finished third while Maximilian Buhk (GER) and Indy Dontje (NED) came home in fifth. The MANN-FILTER Team HTP Motorsport pairing of Maximilian Götz and Markus Pommer (both GER), who had been leading the championship going into the weekend, were this time out of luck: Markus Pommer driving the number 47 Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the first stint was pushed into the gravel trap in Turn 2 and had to retire through no fault of his own. In a chaotic Sunday race, Schramm and Sylvest were the highest-placed of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 contingent in sixth. Buhk and Dontje, who thought they had finished sixth, were subsequently penalised and demoted to 22nd. Götz and Pommer were once again unfortunate when they sustained a puncture on the very first corner. The race was temporarily halted due to a number of other collisions, and the team used the available time to effect a repair. Starting from the rear of the field, they then made progress through the field but could still finish no higher than 15th. As a result, MANN-FILTER Team HTP Motorsport lost points in the drivers’ championship, but they continue to top the team table by a margin of 32 points. Even though Maximilian Götz and Markus Pommer came away empty-handed this weekend, they are only four points behind and still major contenders for the title. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s a case of ‘all in’ now,” said Mercedes-AMG man Maximilian Götz. “We have to go on full attack at Hockenheim and finish ahead of our opponents. It will be very difficult, but we’ll give it all we’ve got to clinch the title in two weeks’ time.”< /p>

Four podiums in 24 hours: The strengths of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in endurance racing were underlined once again this weekend in the 24H Series at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, as IDEC Sport Racing took P3 in the general classification, PROsport Performance and Hofor Racing made it a one-two in the A6-AM class and QSR Racing School achieved a podium finish in the GT4 category. The number 5 (RAM Racing) and number 85 (PROsport Performance) Mercedes-AMG GT3s were also on song in qualifying. The two teams were locked in a battle for pole position, setting one fast lap after another on the recently re-laid surface. At the end of the one-hour qualifying session, Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR) of RAM Racing claimed his second pole position of 2018 and was joined on the front row by fellow Mercedes-AMG driver Adam Christodoulou (GBR) whom he had pipped for the prime spot by just 0.016 seconds. After the race in Barcelona, PROsport Performance retain a five-point lead in the general classification of the 24H Series European Championship. The next event is a 12-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on the weekend of 12th - 13th October.

One win and various podiums in North America: The legendary WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in California with its spectacular Corkscrew turn was the host venue for the penultimate weekend of the North American IMSA series. In the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the in-form duo of Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb (both USA) had yet more reason to celebrate as they clinched victory number three in the series and a fourth successive podium, albeit with a few tense moments in the run-in to the chequered flag: on the final lap of the race, they moved up from third to take the lead, which they then held on to by the slender margin of 0.333 seconds. Trinkler and Plumb now lead the GT4 drivers’ classification by a full 31 points. In the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED) and Ben Keating (USA) in the number 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished third to secure another GTD class podium for Mercedes-AMG team Riley Motorsports. They are currently third in the IMSA team and drivers’ championship, and are still in with a mathematical chance of bridging a 27-point gap to take the title. In the Endurance classification, Bleekemolen and Keating have a two-point lead. The championship will be decided by the outcome of the 10-hour race at Road Atlanta on the weekend of 10th - 13th October.

Three questions for Gary Paffett

Gary, how would you sum up the recent race weekend at the Nürburgring?

Gary Paffett: The weekend at the Nürburgring was great actually, and I think we can be very pleased with how it went. The pace of the car was excellent all weekend. I qualified on the front row for both races, missing pole by three hundredths on Saturday and six thousandths on Sunday. So I was very close to pole position on both days. We’ve got to be very happy with that. Saturday was difficult with the new regulations regarding the tyre pressures, and we did well to finish in third place. On Sunday we had the pace to be second and maybe even challenge for the win. Unfortunately, we made a mistake at the pit stop, but the pace of the car was excellent. At the same time, we went from second in the championship to first. All in all, it was a great weekend, and one that we can be very happy with.

How much of a blow was it for you and for the team to lose so much time on the pit stop?

Gary Paffett: It was very hard. The guys practise so many pit stops, and it’s very rare that something goes wrong. But it is the same for everyone. There is so much pressure. The pit crew are also racing other people, and they are trying to do it as quick as they can. Just one tiny mistake can cost you one or two tenths. This time it cost us four or five seconds, but then I feel equally bad for the guys, because they also had to wait after the stop while other cars drove through the pit lane. So we didn’t just lose time because of the mistake on the pit stop but because we had to wait for the traffic, which wasn’t their fault. It was tough and a very big penalty for the very small mistake that was made. It was hard on me losing five positions on the track but also on the guys working on the car. We are a very strong team, and all of our mechanics and engineers are so motivated and driven. You only have to look at the situation after Misano and before the Nürburgring. We went away from Misano having lost the lead in the championship and having not scored any points. We then came to the Nürburgring and had an incredibly strong weekend, which shows the resilience and determination of my guys.

Do you think that the championship will be decided internally between the Mercedes drivers? Or are Audi and BMW still in the frame?

Gary Paffett: I think they’re still within reach. They can still win the championship. But after the previous couple of weekends, I don’t see BMW being a realistic challenger. Both Wittmann and Glock have a lot of points to make up. Although Marco finished in front of me on Sunday, I don’t see them being able to score enough points more than us to win the championship. Mathematically, there is still everything to play for, but we have to do something seriously wrong for that to happen. René Rest on the other hand… who knows? He is in form, and his points-scoring abilities since Zandvoort have been incredible. He really has been racking up a lot of points and gaining a lot on us in the championship. He is still over 50 points behind, which is a lot, but if he continues to score like he did last weekend, then he definitely has a chance. The battle right now is between me and Paul, but I think we have to keep an eye on René. He is certainly not out of the running.

Social Media News

#F1MeetsMotoGP: What happened when Moto2 rider Niki Tuuli together with Moto3 riders Ayumu Sasaki and Adam Norrodin from PETRONAS Sprinta Racing visited the Mercedes Formula 1 works? A very special factory tour with our reserve driver George Russell.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGPsD-ABAeM

#Monza: We join with the team in taking a look behind the scenes at the legendary Monza circuit and reflect on an unforgettable weekend in the 2018 Italian Grand Prix.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vngl48NLRg

Tales from the paddock – Gary Paffett
Tales from the paddock – Gary Paffett