Gary Paffett started racing Karts at the age of 9. A couple of years later, in 1993, he finished 3rd in the British Cadet Kart Championship, before progressing to the Junior TKM class in 1994, finishing runner-up, and winning the series a year later in 1995.
1996 was a big year for the 15-year-old, as he won the McLaren Mercedes Champions of the Future Kart Championship (Intercontinental class) in addition to finishing runner-up in the British Championship.
In 1997 the youngster switched to single-seaters, winning the Formula Vauxhall Junior Winter Series, and being voted best newcomer, while a year later he won the Formula Vauxhall Junior Championship, going on to win the Formula Vauxhall Championship in 1999.
In 1999 Gary also won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award. Previous winners include: David Coulthard, Jenson Button, Dario Franchitti and Anthony Davidson.
Thanks to the award, Gary was able to secure a seat in the Formula 3 scholarship class, which he totally dominated, with 12 class wins from 14 rounds, 13 pole positions and fastest laps, and finishing over 100 points clear of his nearest rival. In addition, the nineteen-year old became the youngest driver ever to be awarded a BRDC silver award.
In 2001, Paffett contested the German F3 Championship, racing with Keke Rosberg's team, and finishing 6th overall. The following year, he won the series, heading the Championship from start to finish.
In 2003, Gary looked set to contest the F3000 Championship, but after one race made the switch to the German Touring Car Championship (DTM), driving for Rosberg's Mercedes AMG team. He finished 11th overall.
In 2004 he remained in DTM, finishing runner-up with the HWA team (Mercedes). His tally included four wins and one pole position.
In 2005 he went one better, winning the DTM with HWA. This time his tally included five wins and four pole positions.
Gary made his F1 debut in 2000, driving the McLaren, and several further tests followed over the next couple of years, as he helped the team on a regular basis.
Ahead of the 2005 season, there was talk of the youngster joining the Sauber team, but it was not to be - instead he remained in DTM, which, with the benefit of hindsight, was probably the best thing.
The McLaren Mercedes connection had been there for some time, so it didn't come as too big a surprise when, on 21 December 2005, it was announced that the Englishman would join the Woking team as test driver for 2006.
Throughout the course of the year Gary took part in a number of tests for the Woking team, which, for the first time since 1996, failed to win a single round of the World Championship.
Although there was talk of Gary stepping up to a full race seat in 2007, the drive eventually went to Lewis Hamilton, who had taken GP2 by storm. Nonetheless, Gary was retained by the Woking team in addition to contesting the DTM with Mercedes.
The new testing regulations, plus the fact that McLaren already had Pedro de la Rosa, meant that Gary had precious few F1 outings in 2007. His DTM season wasn't anything to write home about either, the English youngster finishing ninth in the championship with just 20.5 points. That said, he did make DTM history at Oschersleben, when he became the first to win in a year old car.
For much of 2007, mindful of the fact that Prodrive was scheduled to enter the Formula One World Championship in 2008 using a McLaren-Mercedes package, there was speculation that Gary would get the nod. However, mainly due to the failure to sign a new Concorde Agreement, the Prodrive F1 programme was still-born.
In 2008 he was retained by McLaren, however, it was a fairly quiet year, what with the restrictions on F1 testing and a relatively dismal season in DTM with the Stern AMG Mercedes team, finishing ninth overall.
There was talk at the end of 2008 that a berth might be found for Gary at Force India, what with the new technical partnership which effectively saw the Silverstone-based outfit become McLaren's B-team. However, team boss Vijay Mallya was quick to confirm Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil for another season.
Retained by McLaren for 2009, the even stricter testing limits meant that Gary was limited to straight-line running up and down an airfield runway for the Woking team. However, he enjoyed success in the DTM championship finishing 2nd overall to Timo Scheider, courtesy of four wins with the Salzgitter AMG Mercedes team.
He remained with McLaren in 2010, his fifth season as tester with the Woking outfit, however, yet again the new rules meant most of his F1 mileage was carried out on a runway or in a simulator.
In DTM Gary continued to enjoy success, once again finishing runner-up, this time to fellow Briton and F1 hopeful Paul di Resta, courtesy of wins at Hockenheim, Valencia and Shanghai.
The popular 29-year-old remained with McLaren in 2011, also staying in DTM where he finished seventh overall with the Affalterbach based HWA team, his worst season since 2008 and the first since that year that he has not scored a podium finish.
Retained by McLaren for 2012, Gary was appointed reserve driver for Force India in Melbourne while Jules Bianchi tested for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Once again concentrating on DTM, Gary finished runner-up for the fourth time, once again with HWA.