McLaren testing deal for Paffett 21 Dec 2005
Ron Dennis obviously doesn't slow down for Christmas. Not only have McLaren confirmed that they have both Vodafone sponsorship and the driving services of Fernando Alonso for the 2007 season within the last week - the team today announced that Gary Paffett will be serving as their second test driver next season.
Despite being British, 24-year old Paffett has done most of his racing in Germany, most recently claiming this year's hard-fought DTM touring car Championship for Mercedes. He also has extensive open-wheel experience, including winning the German Formula 3 Championship in 2002. He has already completed more than 1100 km of testing for McLaren, showing impressive consistency and pace. Together with Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya and reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa, Paffett will be responsible for putting the new MP4-21 through its rigorous testing regime.
"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 McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh. "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 looks forward to his contribution."
"I'm really excited about this opportunity and the challenges ahead," said Paffett. "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."
Paffett arrives at the team as replacement for existing test driver Alexander Wurz, who is expected to move to another team for 2006.