Friday, January 12, 2007

Gary Paffett - where did it all go wrong?

One moment you're DTM champion and in line for a top Formula 1 seat, and next you're scrabbling around for a ride in a year-old DTM car. So, Gary Paffett, where did it all go wrong?

Paffett is without doubt a huge talent. His extensive background in karting and his innate technical ability served him well as he progressed through the ranks to end up in DTM. After a breakthrough first year in the extremely competitive series in a year-old car, he landed a coveted factory Mercedes seat and proceeded to take second in the championship in his first year with the team and the title in his second. Along the way he took nine victories, a remarkable feat in such a competitive series. Eschewing another year in DTM, he took a test role at McLaren's F1 team, with the hopes that he's get the race seat in 2007. He didn't get that seat, and, with the factory Mercedes DTM team complete, can only hope for a place with one of the customer teams in year-old machinery.

The main cause of Paffett's misery is a young man named Lewis Hamilton. The latest Great White Hope in British motor racing (even though he's black) has swooped in after taking the GP2 title, and taken the second McLaren race seat alongside Fernando Alonso. In any normal circumstances, Paffett's massive talent, youth and media-friendly manner would have guaranteed him a place in F1. Problem is, Hamilton is younger, faster and more interesting to the media. McLaren really had no choice, and by the time it became clear to Paffett that he was in trouble, all the other F1 seats had been taken.

He is undoubtedly faster than a lot of current F1 drivers, and younger and better looking than some of those. If I was Toyota (who I panned a couple of weeks ago for their pathetic F1 program) I'd hunt down Gary with an iron-clad promise of a multi-year race contract starting with 2008, along with a 2007 test role and a 2007 SuperGT seat to keep his racing chops sharp. After all, come '08 they MUST SURELY get rid of Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli, both of whom have outstayed their welcome in the sport. Imagine your second cousins who you've maybe only met once before, who have asked to crash for a few nights in your spare bedroom whilst on a round-the-world trip but are still there 4 weeks later... that's Ralf and Jarno.

Set against that kind of mundane talent, Paffett looks every bit the F1 superstar, so it's almost painful to see him pin his hopes on a company like Mercedes, who clearly have their interests elsewhere.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi nicebloke, interesting view of Gary. I think as you do that he does deserve an F1 seat but he was put upon Maclaren by big Norby, Ron has bought Lewis up through the ranks and thinks of him as his protege. So no matter how good Gary is he was always going to pick Lewis,so with Gary it was a case of right place wrong time, Ron needed to pick him not have him foisted on the team. I whole heartedly agree with yopu that if Toyota wants to A; stay in F1 and B; win Gary would be a great choice.