Paffett makes F1 return with Williams, three years after last test

Pirelli/LAT
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Gary Paffett enjoyed his first Formula 1 test in over three-and-a-half years on Wednesday in Barcelona, turning in laps for Williams in its FW40 car.

Paffett, 36, has enjoyed a long-running relationship with Mercedes that saw him enjoy extensive test running between 2006 and 2013 with McLaren, its former customer team.

Paffett’s development role with McLaren ended upon its switch to Honda power for 2015, with the Briton focusing on his race duties in DTM with Mercedes.

After making his last public F1 test appearance with McLaren at Silverstone in July 2013, Paffett was back in action on Wednesday in Bahrain with Williams, contributing to its young driver running allocation (‘young’ being defined by any driver with less than three race starts).

Paffett enjoyed a trouble-free day, turning in 126 laps en route to eighth place in the final standings.

“It’s been a while since I’ve done a full test in a Formula 1 car! It’s really good to be back in the car, really good,” Paffett said.

“The cars this year with the increased downforce, and more grip in the tires, are really nice to drive. We’ve had a really good day.

“We’ve done a lot of laps, which is really good, and we got all of our testing done. That’s the purpose really, to get all the testing done, and then for me to go back and validate the simulator.

“So overall it was really nice to drive the car and I’m very happy with how the day went.”

Paffett may be due to appear for Williams once again in Hungary later this year at the second in-season test, given the British team currently has no junior drivers on its books.