Gary Paffett is known to Formula One followers as McLaren’s test driver. It is a position he has held for some years, sometimes alongside Pedro de la Rosa, who now races for HRT. But that is not really Paffett’s claim to fame.
Currently, in addition to his McLaren duties, Paffett races in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series, in which he has participated since 2003. He won the title in 2005 and has been runner-up three times (2004, 2009 and 2010).
DTM is not generally considered a feeder series for Formula One, although it did produce current Force India driver Paul di Resta, who won the German series in 2010. The series is more commonly a destination for retired Formula One drivers, including Jean Alesi, Ralf Schumacher, David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen.
Paffett is currently leading the 2012 DTM championship comfortably, which begs the question: Why is he not in Formula One? It is obvious that he can drive, and yet McLaren have never asked him to race their F1 car. He was thought to be in contention for the 2007 McLaren seat that ultimately went to Lewis Hamilton, and was linked to the Prodrive team that failed to make the grid in 2008.
Paffett is a successful racing driver. He has experience driving Formula One cars. Is it not time for a Formula One team that is serious about development to hire him?