Young Formula 1 rookie Jolyon Palmer displayed pace that defied the race result achieved by the pair of Renaults in today's European Grand Prix at Baku City Circuit (19 June).
Jolyon brought his Renault Sport Formula One Team R.S.16 home in 15th, just behind team-mate Kevin Magnussen. The Briton posted the eighth quickest time of all on the afternoon – just a second off the benchmark set by Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, as the GP2 champion showed just what he can do given the conditions to suit.
Off the line, the 25-year-old made a clean getaway, drawing alongside the pair of Manors who took off from the row ahead. Congestion into the tight, tricky turn one – its difficulty exemplified by the earlier GP2 melee – forced Jolyon wide, though a mistake made things worse as he was squeezed deep into the run off.
Despite this, a good spell on the soft compound tyres, battling through a flat spot from that earlier incident, left the Southwater racer 13th as the pit-stops began to play out. The damage to his tyre did enforce an earlier-than-planned trip to the pit lane though – on lap 11.
The change from softs to super-softs at his second stop suited Jolyon, as he displayed the kind of pace towards the end of the grand prix that matched that of those well into the points-paying places. Track position on a street circuit that proved to be incredibly tough to make a pass on meant that progress was limited, despite him setting lap times representative of a top-eight finisher on the softest of the Pirelli rubber.
Jolyon said: “We showed once again that our race pace is a lot better than our qualifying pace, which I am thankful for. I had a big flat spot on the soft tyres which meant I had to change; up until then the pace was quite strong. The supersofts did well as well but it was tough to make up the time it takes to pit. That and making a mistake at the start pretty much decided my race. It’s a fun track to drive, it’s just a shame that we didn’t have the car for it today.”
Palmer heads to Austria for the next round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship at the Red Bull Ring (3 July).