The Williams F1 team has appointed former McLaren reserve driver Gary Paffett to spearhead its simulator program as it looks to work its way to the front of the Formula 1 grid in 2016.

The 34-year-old Englishman spent a whopping eight years as test or reserve driver with McLaren, occasionally piloting the team’s cars on track at over 70 official track test days on top of spending thousands of hours in the team’s state-of-the-art simulators.

A Mercedes stalwart who has spent over a decade racing for the German carmaker in the DTM series, Paffett left the Woking team at the end of 2014 following its move from Mercedes power to Honda.

Paffett’s links with Mercedes have meant his move to Williams – a Mercedes customer team – is not really a surprise. A veteran of the DTM championship since 2003, Paffett has driven for Mercedes where he has won the 2005 title as well as finishing as runner-up on no less than four occasions.

Gary Paffett

Gary Paffett in action during the 2015 DTM season – he finished the year ninth overall with three podium finishes.

“I am really pleased to be joining the Williams team as the simulator driver to aid in the development of this year’s car. The team has such a great pedigree and history in Formula One. I look forward to supporting the team over this year in my new role,” Paffett said of his appointment.

“We’re delighted to have someone with Gary’s experience join us at Williams,” added the team’s Deputy Team Principal, Claire Williams.

“He is a highly professional racing driver and his level of testing knowledge, and ability to analyse data, will significantly help to drive forward development of the FW38 throughout the season.”

Paffett effectively takes over part of the responsibilities of former test driver Susie Wolff, who announced her retirement from motorsport at the end of 2015.

Images via XPB Images

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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.