Paffett becomes McLaren tester

British star Gary Paffett has taken a step closer to becoming a grand prix driver after joining McLaren for 2006.

Paffett, who won last year’s DTM touring car title for Mercedes, has quit the tin-top series in exchange for a test-driver role with the Three-Pointed Star’s Formula One operation.

Although Spanish veteran Pedro de la Rosa remains as McLaren’s reserve driver in other words, in line to stand in if Juan Pablo Montoya suffers any more highspeed ‘tennis’ injuries, Paffett could find himself upgraded: in 2005 both de la Rosa and Alex Wurz understudied for Montoya.

Wurz, meanwhile, looked all set to shift to the DTM in a straight swap with Paffett. but he has managed to prolong his F1 career by signing as reserve driver for the Williams-Cosworth team.