Gary Paffett has agreed to continue his career in the DTM touring car series after inking a new long-term deal with Mercedes-Benz.
The Briton, who has been on McLaren's testing strength in F1 for many years, appears to have missed the boat in terms of making the jump to the top flight in a race capacity, what with Pedro de la Rosa - who subbed for the unwell Sergio Perez in Canada - back in the McLaren fold and DTM rival Paul di Resta clearly higher up Mercedes' ranking, having signed to race with Force India in 2011.
Like di Resta, a winner of the DTM title, Paffett is the most successful active driver in the series, with 17 wins from 73 starts, and has finished on the podium in more than a third of his DTM races. Next season will be his ninth with Mercedes-Benz, in that time becoming the first British driver to win the DTM title, in 2005. He was promoted to the role of McLaren test driver following that success but, after taking a year out of touring cars to concentrate on the role, returned to the DTM in 2007, making an immediate impact by becoming the first driver in series history to win a race with a year-old car.
"I am delighted to continue my relationship with Mercedes-Benz for the long term - we have worked together for a long time, enjoyed a lot of success and I feel a big part of this successful racing family," Paffett commented, "Thank you to Norbert [Haug] and Gerhard Ungar for putting their faith in me, and to my management, Mark Blundell and 2MB, for their hard work to make it happen.
"Next year, the DTM will enter a new era and the competition will be even tougher. It's a big challenge to try and make our future as successful as we have been in the past - and I am sure experience and continuity will play a big role in achieving that. I'm very excited to be part of this new era of the DTM and the fact that I now have a long-term contract in place with Mercedes gives me a solid basis on which to perform even better."