McLaren reserve driver Gary Paffett will also serve as Force India's understudy at this weekend's Australian GP

McLaren reserve driver Gary Paffett has been confirmed as Force India’s standby driver for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, with the Silverstone team’s regular driver, Jules Bianchi (who is himself contracted to Ferrari) as the Formula Renault 3.5 pre-season test.

He steps into the role on the back of Force India’s technical partnership with McLaren’s technology arm.

Paffett – who will also be racing in this year’s DTM championship with Mercedes – has himself been promoted to the role of McLaren reserve driver following the departure of former reserve driver, Pedro de la Rosa, to the HRTF1 team,

He has already been behind the wheel of a Formula 1 machine this weekend, demonstrating McLaren’s 2011 challenger to the crowds in the ‘Ultimate Speed Comparison’ events. The 30-year-old is pitted against a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG ‘Black’ series sports car and a Team Vodafone Holden Commodore V8 Supercar, which set off from the starting line a predetermined intervals in a handicap race.

Paffett will only have to run in the Force India should illness or injury beset the team’s regular drivers, Paul di Resta or Nico Hülkenberg.

“I’m happy to be available for Force India for this weekend,” the Englishman said.

“Of course, it’s unlikely that I will be called up and hopefully it won’t happen, but it’s nice to know that the team thought of me,” he added.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.