Gary Paffett sees no reason why he cannot spend another 10 years racing in the DTM as he gears up for his 100th start in the series at Oschersleben this weekend.
The Briton made his series debut in 2003 and won the title two years later. He has finished as championship runner-up three times in the past four years and remains in title contention with three races of the current campaign to go.
Paffett, 32, pointed towards the record of his former Mercedes teammate Bernd Schneider, the most successful driver in DTM history in terms of wins and championships, as something to aim for.
“I’d love to keep going as long as Bernd did,” Paffett said. “He was in his early forties when he stopped and was still winning races. He’s still winning the 24-hour races in GTs now!
“I’ve always been competitive in this championship and as long as my performances stay at that kind of level, then hopefully Mercedes will see no reason to get rid of me and I’ll be able to stay. I’m 32 now and with 10 races a year that means it will take another 10 years; maybe slightly less if the calendar is increased by a race or two.
“It might be stretching it a little, but I’m still enjoying my racing, have a long-term deal with Mercedes and want to keep going as long as I can.”
Paffett lies sixth in the championship standings, 49 points behind Audi’s series leader Mike Rockenfeller with 75 still up for grabs in the final three races. He also trails HWA teammates Robert Wickens and Christian Vietoris by 13 and 14 points, respectively
“I’ll never concede my chances until the maths say I can’t win the championship,” Paffett added. “I’ll keep pushing as hard as I can, but given the position I’m in points-wise, it’s not looking very likely.”
PAFFETT’S DTM NUMBERS
99 – starts (including non-points Shanghai street race in 2004)
20 – wins
9 – poles
10 – fastest laps
31 – podiums
1 – manufacturer (Mercedes)
2005 – his championship year
3 – number of times he’s finished second in the points since 2009
AUTOSPORT will broadcast live video of both the race and qualifying from the Oschersleben DTM event this weekend. You can catch all the qualifying and race action from Germany from 1.30pm BST on Saturday and 12.30pm on Sunday.