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Paffett: Formula E something I wanted to get into

Gary Paffett is no stranger to success in motorsport.

As a two-time DTM champion and one of the most successful drivers in the series and a former test driver for the McLaren F1 team, it’s fair to say he knows what he is doing.

However, one thing which he hasn’t done is have his kids see their dad win a championship as it had been 13 years between his first and his most recent title in the ever-competitive series.

When asked if it was kind of strange that a whole new generation of fans who grew up watching him race were now making their way into press rooms, he said: “Yeah,  I mean it’s a strange feeling. A lot of time has passed.

“The one thing which made me realise something like that was realising this year that my kids, all my kids, although they all think their dad’s great at driving, they’ve never actually seen me win a championship you know, until this year.

“That was one thing that obviously. My first son was only a year old [in 2005], so he obviously had no idea about it and for them to see them to see their dad win a championship was something amazing.

“It’s certainly a lot of time has passed since I first won but it’s pretty amazing that 13 years later, I’ve gone on to win a second one.”

He will also be the last DTM Champion for Mercedes for the foreseeable future after the German manufacturer withdrew from the series at the end of the season this year after having been the only manufacturer to compete in the series since the rebirth of it in 2000.

When asked how much of an influence this was, he said: “Huge. I can’t say that I would never have ended up here anyway.

“You know, certainly a series that’s been on my radar and I’m getting to the point where I wanna make sure I get some things done in my career before I actually stop that I haven’t done yet and Formula E was certainly, one of [those] things that I certainly wanted to get into and have a shot at before I hung my boots up.

“But Mercedes pulling out kind of forced us all into looking around at other options and when HWA announced that they were going to come into Formula E, then it was a perfect fit.

“For myself, to be able to continue with the team and for all of us to come into this venture, on this journey together was perfect so yeah, it was certainly opened the door for me to look elsewhere and I’m really happy that it has.

“And obviously, as you say, finishing the season, finishing the era of Mercedes in DTM with the championship was amazing.”

One of the other things which are key in Formula E is the ability to develop a car and after many years of experience testing and developing DTM cars and F1 cars for McLaren in the era of unlimited testing, Paffett certainly has experience in that field.

On how much of what he has learnt over the years he can bring to the HWA programme, he said: “You can do a lot. I mean, the actual direct crossover is, doesn’t work really because the cars are so different.

“Even compared to a Formula 1 to a Formula E, they’re completely different and the systems and the stuff you’re talking about and developing is very different.

“So, there’s very little direct crossover but when you’ve had the experience in DTM, developing DTM cars for 15 years or, as well, developing Formula 1 cars, things like that, it’s just the process of, about how you go about developing and getting the most out of a car and improving a car and also with the helping, with the team, building the team and things like that.

“I think my experience with everything I’ve done in motorsport is really gonna help, yeah, hopefully, get this team to the level we want to be at as quickly as possible.”

Paffett knows it’s a learning year for himself, Stoffel Vandoorne and the team but he does have the experience of the Gen1 car. He is the only one of the team’s drivers who is in a position to be able to compare the two cars and he thinks the Gen2 car is a definite improvement over the Gen1 car.

He said: “I drove the gen 1 car in Marrakesh but, there was a big gap between driving that and the Gen2 car so it was definitely a big step forward.

“With regards to the systems and the braking, it was a big step forwards. The Gen1 car was sometimes quite difficult under braking so the Gen2 car’s been a big step in the right direction.

“And the level of technology and the level of the systems is a lot higher in this car. So yeah, and also the speed.

“The speed increase for the qualifying laps especially is massive and obviously, the duration for which we can run the car for the races has doubled so I did have a few expectations and it’s certainly met all of them and I was pleasantly surprised by the improvement they’ve made over the Gen1 car.”

Rob Lomas

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