Paffett to stay in Formula E as Mercedes reserve

by Scott Douglas

Gary Paffett has been appointed as the test and reserve driver for Mercedes-Benz EQ for the 2019-20 season.

The Brit held a race seat at HWA Racelab last season before the team was taken over by Mercedes, but he struggled to get to grip with the all-electric series as he achieved just three points finishes and ended up nineteenth in the driver’s championship.

Mercedes instead chose Formula 2 champion Nyck de Vries to partner Stoffel Vandoorne in the race team, but have retained Paffett to carry out reserve and car development duties.

They will also look to him for sporting and technical advice, with Paffett becoming part of the management team.

Although disappointed to have missed out on a race seat, Paffett said that as a driver he would be able to get more out of Vandoorne and de Vries as he knows how they think.

“On the one hand, I’m obviously a bit disappointed that I won’t be competing for Mercedes-Benz in Formula E this season,” Paffett said. “But on the other, I’m very excited to be part of the team and to be supporting Mercedes-Benz in their first year in Formula E as Reserve and Development Driver.

“At the same time, it will be very interesting to help out on a sporting level at the race weekends, trying to get the best possible performance out of the two race drivers and the entire team.

“It’s very important to have a racing driver as part of the management team. I understand how drivers think and how to get the best out of them. In me, they have a partner to discuss their performance with and to talk about the car. It’s a new role for me and one that I’m looking forward to.”

Mercedes Team Principal Ian James said that the leadership qualities Paffett had shown in the team led to his advisory role, while also saying there were few who could help them develop the car like he could.

James said, “Gary has been an important pillar of our motorsport programme for the past 16 years. Gary Paffett’s name is inextricably associated with Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.

“He is not only an exceptional driver but also a charismatic and judicious leader, which qualities he has repeatedly demonstrated in the DTM as our team captain. In addition, there is hardly any driver who is able to push forward the development of a car better than he can.

“There is no doubt that he will continue to play a major role in the future development of the team, as indeed he always has.”

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