Paffett: Wickens' overtake was "teamwork", not team order

Mercedes driver Gary Paffett insists he was not ordered to allow Robert Wickens past in DTM's Race 1 at Moscow Raceway - but says he knew what "he had to do" for the team's benefit.

Paffett: Wickens' overtake was "teamwork", not team order
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team ART, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Podium: Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team ART, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM with champagne
Robert Wickens, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Robert Wickens, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team ART, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team ART, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team ART, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Podium, Robert Wickens, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team ART, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team ART, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Robert Wickens, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM

Paffett had taken pole - his first of the 2016 season - in qualifying on Saturday morning, but gave up the lead on the first green-flag lap of the race, running wide at Turn 3 as Robert Wickens went past.

The Canadian went on to win and moved to the lead of the standings, while Mercedes' other main championship contender - Paul di Resta - subsequently took P2 from Paffett.

Regarding Wickens' move, Paffett said: "It wasn't a team order, I never got told to let him past. We all know what the aim is here and the aim is to win the championship.

"So far this season Robert has done an incredible job and right at the start, when I saw him behind me, I wasn't going to make it very difficult for him, to be honest. So I let him go, let him sort of control the race from there.

"And then I dropped back a bit towards Paul, made a small mistake and Paul got very close. And then again, when Paul was that close, I didn't make it hard for him to get past.

"I've had a couple of races where I've had failures or something went wrong and I didn't get enough points. Robert's got a lot more points than me so at the start of the race, when I saw him behind me, I knew what I had to do. And he's now leading the championship so it was the right thing to do.

"If someone comes over the radio and says 'let him past', that's a team order. But we have an understanding. And that's teamwork, not a team order."

"We have to do it"

Asked about a possible negative fan reaction to intra-team cooperation in the DTM, Paffett said: "Absolutely, I can understand it. But they have to see it from our point of view.

"We're fighting for a championship, we're not the only people doing it - everyone does it. I can understand it, but the DTM is a team sport as well, it's not just an individual sport.

"We have eight cars out there, we have a third of the grid, it's a team sport. It's gonna happen, it's natural. We have to do it because everyone else is doing it, but at the end, it is a team sport, we work as a team."

The Briton then went on to praise the Mercedes contingent of drivers for being "in sync" and aware of the end goal.

"We have an understanding within the team, it's not just me," he added. "Every driver in the team understands the goals, understands what we're here for - and everybody plays their part.

"When we go out in qualifying and testing, we're out there for ourselves. But once we get to a race, we know what the team philosophy is. We all agree to it.

"This team of eight drivers is the closest team of eight drivers I've ever seen - I don't think anyone in this series or even in this sport has a team of drivers that are as in sync as we are. And it just works."

Frustration is there

Paffett, a DTM champion back in 2005, has not won a race in the series since 2013 at Lausitzring - and the Briton admitted missing out on a victory shot and having to play the team game was somewhat frustrating.

"Of course it is [frustrating], of course I want to win the race. I think it is a moral victory maybe," he joked.

"But, yeah, of course I want to win the race. But I understand, I've been on both sides of the coin here, in the past. I've won the championship with the help from my teammates and hopefully this year we're gonna put Robert in a good chance to do that.

"I am disappointed and obviously I would've liked to have the win, but it's a long season, it's a long game.

"This isn't, hopefully, my last year in DTM and I can come back and win every race next year maybe."

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About this article

Series DTM
Event Moscow
Location Moscow Raceway
Drivers Robert Wickens , Gary Paffett
Teams Mercedes
Author Valentin Khorounzhiy
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