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Jolyon Palmer




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Jolyon Palmer


Horsham, England
Horsham, England

Official website:


The son of Jonathan Palmer, who between 1983 and 1989 contested 83 Grands Prix with Williams, RAM, Zakspeed and Tyrrell, Jolyon's racing career started off in MiniMax karts in 2004, aged 13, before making the move to T Cars a year later.

T Cars was a series for drivers between the ages of fourteen and seventeen years old and, starting off with the Autumn Trophy in 2005, in which he finished fifth, Jolyon continued in the series over the next couple of seasons, winning the Autumn Trophy in 2006.

In 2007 he made the move to the series which his father had created in 1998, Formula Palmer Audi. Finishing his first season tenth, despite missing two rounds due to an abdominal injury, he returned in 2008 and finished third, taking the same position in the Autumn Trophy.

In 2009 he moved to the new FIA Formula 2 Championship, a revival of the former European Formula Two Championship which had run between 1967 and 1984 and which was won by Jonathan Palmer in 1983. Indeed, Palmer, now the owner of a number of race circuits, including Brands Hatch, was the driving force the new series.

Whilst his best result in his inaugural season was sixth at Imola, he returned in 2010 and this time finished championship runner-up. Over the course of the season he claimed five wins, his victory at Silverstone being the first F2 win by a British driver since his father's victory at Mugello in his title-winning season.

2011 saw Jolyon make the inevitable move up to GP2. For the first time he was not in a team backed by his father, rather Christian Horner's Arden Motorsport.

There was little of note about his first season, other than the fact that he scored a top ten finish on his debut weekend (Abu Dhabi) and further top ten finishes followed at Istanbul and Valencia.

For the end of year GP2 Finals in Abu Dhabi, Jolyon switched to the Barwa Addax team and third and fourth places ensured he finished fourth overall.

He remained in GP2 in 2012, moving to iSport alongside Marcus Ericsson. Electrical issues blighted the early part of his season, precipitating a change of chassis. His results immediately improved and a sixth place in the feature race at Monaco was followed by his maiden victory in the sprint race. There followed a podium finish at Silverstone, putting Jolyon into the top ten as the season entered its second half, though he ultimately slipped to eleventh despite another podium finish at Monza.

For 2013, Jolyon moved teams once again, this time to Carlin where he partnered 2011 British F3 Champion Felipe Nasr. Scoring regular points throughout the year, he scored his first win in the feature race at the Hungaroring and then dominated in Singapore, taking pole, fastest lap and feature race win. Qualifying in the top three in each of the final three events he finished 7th overall in the standings.

2014, his fourth season in GP2, saw Jolyon with his fifth different team, the Briton moving to French outfit DAMS.

Topping the timesheets on the first day of testing in Abu Dhabi was clearly an omen. He subsequently took pole position for the first race of the season (Bahrain) and won the sprint race next day to take the championship lead.

In Hungary, Jolyon prevailed in thrilling wheel-to-wheel contests with Felipe Nasr in both races, tensions subsequently boiling over during the sprint race podium ceremony.

At Monza, he was forced to start the feature race at the back of the grid after his car was found to have less than the mandatory one litre of fuel remaining. Despite this, he finished eighth, thereby securing reverse grid pole for the sprint race, which he won.

Jolyon clinched the championship with a fourth win of the year at Sochi with three races to spare, his four wins and eleven other podium finishes ensuring he made history as the GP2 champion with the most ever points.

At season end, now looking ahead to 2015, he took part in the two-day test in Abu Dhabi, driving the Force India. Around a month later, on 20 January, his 24th birthday, he was confirmed as test and reserve driver at Lotus. The move, which saw him join Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado meant that, for the first time, three GP2 champions were in the same F1 team.

Jolyon made his debut in the E23 on the second day of the first Barcelona test, his next appearance in the car being FP1 in China.

Enjoying 13 Friday sessions over the course of the season, Jolyon also drove in the post-Spanish and Austrian GP tests, not forgetting Abu Dhabi.

In late October, whilst Renault's purchase of the Lotus F1 Team was still to be finalised, Jolyon was confirmed as Pastor Maldonado's teammate for 2016. With Romain Grosjean having effectively blown away the Venezuelan for the last couple of season, it would be interesting to see how the Briton fared.

However, in mid-January it was revealed that the money from PDVSA was overdue thereby putting Pastor Maldonado's seat in jeopardy. Indeed, Venezuela, already in the midst of its worst recession in living memory, the global oil glut, and the resultant effect on prices, inflicted further pain and on February 1, Maldonado took to Twitter to announce that he would not be on the grid in 2016.

Subsequently, just 48 hours before Renault was due to publicly reveal its new livery and driver line-up, Jolyon was told his new teammate would be Kevin Magnussen.

It's fair to say that 2016 was a baptism by fire for the Briton. The late purchase of Lotus by Renault not only had an impact on the car - the French team forced to use a 2016 Lotus built for a Mercedes engine and using 2015 components - it meant that the manufacturer headed into its 'debut' season almost totally unprepared.

In the final years of Lotus the facility at Enstone had been allowed to fall into disrepair, the workforce seriously depleted, machinery and licenses out of date and all manner of other problems greeted the new owner... and its drivers.

Like Magnussen, Jolyon rolled up his sleeves and got to work, though it took a little longer for the GP2 champion to find his feet.

A workmanlike debut in Melbourne was followed by a number of frankly disappointing performances, though not making it to the grid in Bahrain due to a hydraulics issue can hardly be blamed on the youngster.

That said, numerous incidents that followed were down to Jolyon, namely numerous crashes in Monaco, a clash with Massa in Germany, a spin while heading for his debut points in Hungary and clashes with Kvyat and Sainz in Brazil and Abu Dhabi respectively.

A revised floor clearly helped Jolyon find his feet - see what we did there - and as the season progressed the Briton's confidence clearly grew. After the summer break he was not only making it through to Q2 on a regular basis, come race day he was pushing his teammate harder and harder.

Though the Hungary spin looked to have cost him his seat for 2017, a convincing drive to tenth in Malaysia - his first points finish of the year - was followed by the news that he'd been retained for a second season.

All things considered, it would be wrong to judge Jolyon on his 2016 results. However, with Renault expected to take a significant step forward in 2017, and with a new teammate, in the form of Nico Hulkenberg, by which to compare, the new season should tell us whether the Briton had 'the right stuff' for F1. There would be no more excuses, for either Jolyon or Renault.

While reliability, certainly at the start of the season was questionable, and Jolyon suffered more than his fair share of bad luck, the fact is that, all things considered, he simply wasn't up to the job.

If proof were needed look no further than Saturday afternoons when he was consistently well off his teammate's pace, while on Sundays also he was never a serious match for the German.

While some will point to the fact that Hulkenberg got all the updates first, one has to wonder would Jolyon really have made better use of them.

Technical issues aside, and there were plenty, the qualifying crash in Sochi, his numerous excursions in Hungary and spins in Malaysia were entirely down to the Briton.

Indeed, any real doubt about Jolyon and Renault's decision to drop him were dispelled the moment Carlos Sainz climbed into the RS17, the Spaniard immediately giving Hulkenberg something to think about in qualifying and the races.

Ironically, his best performance of the year came in Singapore, by which time his fate was already decided, the Briton contributing his 8 points towards the teams season tally of 57.

We've seen it before and no doubt we'll see it again, the fact is that some drivers, no matter how impressive their rise through the ranks, simply don't have 'the right stuff' for F1, and Jolyon was one of them.

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