Q and A with Gary Paffett During the summer five week testing break Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test driver Gary Paffett spent some time at the McLaren Technology Centre. Taking a break from his simulation work Gary took time for this interview.
Gary, it has been an exciting season for the team. The on-track performance of the MP4-22 has been very strong, and importantly, reliable, can you tell us how you have been involved with the development of the car so far?
"The development of this year’s car, the MP4-22, started in the middle of last year. It was a hard winter - getting the package together, but we turned up at the start of this season looking strong. We have done a lot of work since then - mainly in the simulator, that is the main focus of my work."
Testing has changed this year; we have seen you doing a lot more straight line testing. Can you tell us specifically how this has helped with the on-track performance of the MP4-22?
"As you say testing is restricted a lot more, whereas last year we had two cars per day now we only have one, so we rely a lot more on straight line testing and simulator work. The straight line testing is mainly for evaluating aerodynamics, to make sure the results we get in the wind tunnel are the same as on the circuit."
We saw you win the second round of the DTM championship in May. What is it like to be back in competitive racing?
"It’s great! I won the championship in 2005 and then I had a year out testing in 2006. I did miss racing, so getting back in the car was fantastic. It was tough, DTM is such a competitive championship and we were competing in a year old car, but it’s great to be back racing again and it’s something that I don’t want to stop doing."
You went to Santander British Grand Prix this year. What was the atmosphere like?
"It was fantastic, I’ve been attending the Santander British Grand Prix for a few years now and it’s always great, but I think especially with all the attention around Lewis, with how competitive he has been this year, it was a fantastic buzz and a really good vibe all weekend."
We are now in a five week testing break what does the team do in this time?
"A few members of the team go on holiday and have a bit of a rest. It’s been a really hard season so far. Most people are focusing on trying to improve for the next race. As there is a testing break we have to work harder on our simulation work and straight line testing to compensate for the lack of on-track activity, you can’t rest because other teams will catch up and overtake, so we work as hard as any other time of year."
This is a very critical time in the championship, and with no testing going on how do we keep the momentum up within the team?
"We’ve had a great season so far and the last few races have been very good, so we should focus on that. It is easier to stay motivated when we are doing well. We should use this time improving on what we have, we can’t become complacent, we have to be ahead of the game. This is what we are doing; focusing on straight line testing, simulation and just trying our hardest to make sure we are 100 per cent ready for the next race." McLaren