QUICK CHAT: Gary Paffett
Gary, how would you sum up the recent race weekend at the Nürburgring?
Gary Paffett: The weekend at the Nürburgring was great actually, and I think we can be very pleased with how it went. The pace of the car was excellent all weekend. I qualified on the front row for both races, missing pole by three hundredths on Saturday and six thousandths on Sunday. So I was very close to pole position on both days. We’ve got to be very happy with that. Saturday was difficult with the new regulations regarding the tyre pressures, and we did well to finish in third place. On Sunday we had the pace to be second and maybe even challenge for the win. Unfortunately, we made a mistake at the pit stop, but the pace of the car was excellent. At the same time, we went from second in the championship to first. All in all, it was a great weekend, and one that we can be very happy with.
How much of a blow was it for you and for the team to lose so much time on the pit stop?
Gary Paffett: It was very hard. The guys practise so many pit stops, and it’s very rare that something goes wrong. But it is the same for everyone. There is so much pressure. The pit crew are also racing other people, and they are trying to do it as quick as they can. Just one tiny mistake can cost you one or two tenths. This time it cost us four or five seconds, but then I feel equally bad for the guys, because they also had to wait after the stop while other cars drove through the pit lane. So we didn’t just lose time because of the mistake on the pit stop but because we had to wait for the traffic, which wasn’t their fault. It was tough and a very big penalty for the very small mistake that was made. It was hard on me losing five positions on the track but also on the guys working on the car. We are a very strong team, and all of our mechanics and engineers are so motivated and driven. You only have to look at the situation after Misano and before the Nürburgring. We went away from Misano having lost the lead in the championship and having not scored any points. We then came to the Nürburgring and had an incredibly strong weekend, which shows the resilience and determination of my guys.
Do you think that the championship will be decided internally between the Mercedes drivers? Or are Audi and BMW still in the frame?
Gary Paffett: I think they’re still within reach. They can still win the championship. But after the previous couple of weekends, I don’t see BMW being a realistic challenger. Both Wittmann and Glock have a lot of points to make up. Although Marco finished in front of me on Sunday, I don’t see them being able to score enough points more than us to win the championship. Mathematically, there is still everything to play for, but we have to do something seriously wrong for that to happen. René Rest on the other hand… who knows? He is in form, and his points-scoring abilities since Zandvoort have been incredible. He really has been racking up a lot of points and gaining a lot on us in the championship. He is still over 50 points behind, which is a lot, but if he continues to score like he did last weekend, then he definitely has a chance. The battle right now is between me and Paul, but I think we have to keep an eye on René. He is certainly not out of the running.