Gary Paffett will no longer compete for Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport in the 2021 DTM season. Travel restrictions and the Corona pandemic make a comeback for the two-time DTM champion impossible. Instead, AMG driver Maximilian Buhk, driving the #18 Mercedes-AMG GT3, which is equipped with the Space Drive digital steering system and has no mechanical connection at all between the steering unit and the steering gearbox, will finish the season. He had already deputized for Paffett in the first three races and several times finished in the top 10 of the strong DTM field.
The UK is still a “red” rated Corona risk country. The fact that the country is no longer part of the EU does not make traveling to the competition venues any easier either; as of today, there is no planning certainty for the team. However, lengthy quarantine arrangements are not feasible for Gary Paffett for various reasons. The team regrets this, especially as the preparations for the season in April/May with Gary Paffett went very well.
The original plan was for the champion to return to the Space Drive cockpit of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the Nürburgring at the latest. Due to commitments as part of Mercedes’ Formula E involvement and overlaps with the first DTM race weekends, a start before Zolder was not possible, even then Belgium’s Corona regulations made participation impossible without a lengthy quarantine.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 #18 is one of three technology carriers equipped with the Space Drive steer-by-wire system in the DTM. The innovative steering system does not require a mechanical connection between the steering unit and the steering gear and originated in the field of mobility for the disabled. It is now a key technology for autonomous driving and is currently being developed further for series production.
Gary Paffett, two-time DTM champion: “The situation is very frustrating. I’m very disappointed that I won’t be able to compete in the DTM this season. I’m especially sorry for the team and my fans, who must have been really looking forward to celebrating a reunion in the DTM. I am very happy to be part of the Schaeffler Paravan project. The tests with the Space Drive System were very convincing. I will continue to be a brand ambassador for Schaeffler Paravan and will be able to support the development of the Space Drive System and other future projects. I was very impressed with the technology and am excited to be involved.”
Peter Mücke, Team Principal, Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport: “We regret having to make this decision, but it is the right one and provides planning security for the season for everyone involved. There is absolutely no question that Gary is a very good driver. But the problems we have at the moment with Corona cannot be explained away. Gary has no realistic chance to come here to test. You have to be fair to him, too. That’s why it’s currently better that Maxi continues to drive. He knows the car, he knows the system, he knows the team, and that’s why we can certainly work best in this constellation.”
Maximilian Buhk, DTM Space Drive Pilot at Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport: “I’m looking forward to continuing to be part of the DTM Space Drive project and hope that we can continue to improve. My goal is not only to finish in the points, but also to be on the podium. Clearly, that has to be the goal. We will continue to do everything we can to further develop the system under the tough conditions of the DTM and gain important insights. We are on a very good path. The DTM is a special GT3 series; the format is different, you sit alone in the car, the pit stops are made without the minimum time usual in other series, and the whole environment is different. It’s a lot of fun.”
Source. Mücke Motorsport/Photo. Gruppe C