DTM » 07 May 2007
Paffett praises team after surprise win.
Gary Paffett fired a timely reminder in the direction of any Formula One teams that had considered taking him on for this season by winning the second round of the 2007 DTM championship against the odds in a year-old Mercedes.
The McLaren test driver, who is being tipped for a possible F1 ride with Prodrive next season, only returned to the touring car series to keep his hand in while grand prix test duties were reduced, but made the most of a tumultuous race to return to the top step of the podium - despite running allegedly out-dated machinery.
The 2005 DTM champion shrugged off any perceived disadvantage with a masterclass in racing. Having qualified eighth, he overtook three cars going into the first corner to lie fifth at the end of the first lap, before the Laureus-backed Persson team called him for an early pit-stop on lap six.
Although losing ground, the decision gave the 27-year old a clear track, and a chance to put in some quick laps. The team then opted to leave Paffett out as long as possible before the second mandatory pit-stop, using the same clear track for him to run quickly for as long as possible. Although he was struggling with his rear tyres, Paffett persevered and maintained a strong race pace until his team called him back in.
A perfect tyre change put the Briton back on track in the lead with 14 of the 44 laps remaining and, with fresh rubber, he was able to hold off second placed driver Paul di Resta, who was also on a late second-stop strategy. By the time he had completed his stop, however, Paffett had built up a lead of over five seconds, and we was able to maintain that until the chequered flag.
"It was a great strategy by my team," Paffett enthused, "It was a bit of a risk pitting so early with our first stop, but it put us out of sequence and out of the traffic, so we were able to really get in some good laps. The rear tyres were giving me a slight problem as we were running so late into the race before our second stop, and I was anxious to pit, but my team had the right strategy and were waiting until the right moment when I would come back out in clear air - and it worked.
"I thought Mika Hakkinen would be ahead of me but, when I looked in my mirrors, he was behind me - and a long way back as well. With new tyres on he wasn't able to catch me either."
Paffett admitted that he had no expected to be as much of a factor in the year-old car, but was delighted with the success after Mercedes struggled all-round in race one two weeks ago.
"All in all, it's a great result, and my thanks go to everyone involved - it was a real team effort," he continued, "We thought it would be a tough weekend, and we did have our moments. We didn't think we had qualified as high up as we should have done, so we were a little disappointed, but we felt that we had a good, fast car and proved it this afternoon."
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