'TOURING CARS SHOULDN'T BE EXCLUDED': Touring Cars champion and F1 test driver Gary Paffett believes that series should be included in F1's new superlicence points system. Image: Garypaffett.com
BIRMINGHAM, England - Formula 1's new points-based superlicence system for 2016 is flawed and needs a rethink, according to former McLaren test driver and 2005 German Touring Cars (DTM) champion Gary Paffett.
Paffett told Reuters at the Autosport International show on Saturday (Jan 10) that the governing International Automobile Federation was wrong to ignore the DTM in a list of recognised feeder series.
The federation has announced that, from 2016, applicants must be over 18 and have at least 40 qualifying points from other series in the last three years to obtain the mandatory licence.
DTM EXCLUDED FROM POINTS
The move would, if applied this year, have kept out Toro Rosso's 17-year-old rookie Max Verstappen and others with limited experience or success. Only five series will offer the chance to acquire 40 points in one year and German Touring Cars, which has had several ex-F1 drivers in its ranks over the years, was excluded entirely.
When asked about the age restriction and requirement for proven expertise, Paffet said: "I agree with the theory but omitting certain championships, and especially touring cars, from the superlicence points system is quite a flaw. When I won that championship in 2005 it was my third year in tourers and I had a good chance of getting a drive in F1 in 2006.
"Now, with this system, that would not have happened because I'd have to have done three years in Touring Cars and I wouldn't have scored any points for the superlicence."
STEPPING STONE TO F1
Paffett, who has left McLaren now that it has a new partnership, Honda, in 2015, said the touring cars was a good stepping stone towards F1 with strong manufacturer support and high-performance cars.
Paul Di Resta won the 2010 DTM title before securing a Force India F1 drive while Mercedes GP's 20-year-old F1 reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein completed two seasons in the series. Di Resta, who left F1 in 2013 and returned to DTM, would not have qualified for a superlicence under the new rules.
Paffett said: "It's a great learning championship for drivers to come into. You are representing a manufacturer, racing cars that are at a very high level of performance, downforce and power and are racing with drivers of very high quality. So what you learn in DTM is a very high level.
"I think the (licence) system needs some work... quite a lot of refining I would say."