Jolyon Palmer is eagerly anticipating the race that is affectionately regarded as the jewel in Formula 1’s glittering crown this weekend (26-29 May) – the star-studded Monaco Grand Prix.
Jolyon will return to the glamorous Principality with happy memories, having twice triumphed there in the supporting GP2 Series – tallying his breakthrough victory in 2012 and adding another lights-to-flag success to his career CV two years later en route to his record-breaking drivers’ title – so the young British F1 rookie is well-versed in the circuit’s unique demands and how to conquer its myriad challenges.
He will compete there in Formula 1 for the first time this weekend. Buoyed by what he described as the ‘best race’ of his fledgling top flight career to-date behind the wheel of the Renault Sport Formula One Team R.S.16 in Barcelona last time out, the 25-year-old Southwater racer is fired-up for a grand prix in which anything can happen.
“I love it!” Jolyon enthuses. “It’s tight and twisty and the barriers are so close, meaning there’s no room for error. As a racetrack, it’s the craziest one I’ve ever driven, not just because it’s a street course, but because it’s a proper road that’s used by the public every day and it wasn’t designed to be a racetrack. It’s very bumpy and it’s very easy to make a mistake and end up in the wall.
“Monaco requires a lot of commitment, and it presents a really exacting challenge to deliver a fast lap time as you need to be practically brushing the walls everywhere – to put everything together in Monaco is the biggest challenge in Formula 1, and there have been so many legendary races there!
“Overtaking is very difficult; firstly, you need a good pace advantage over the guy in front, and preferably you want him to make a mistake! There are a couple of places –Ste. Devote is one and there’s a DRS zone there too, and then into the chicane is the most obvious opportunity. That said, any attempt you make could end up in contact with your competitor or the wall, so you really have to balance the risk and reward.
“The circuit is great by itself, but put it in the context of where it is on the harbour front and add the atmosphere of the weekend where you have a great party ambience and the whole buzz of the place makes for something really special. It’s a race that each and every fan needs to experience at some time in their life. It’s Formula 1 with a festival feel.”
The action will get underway on Thursday – its traditional slot at Monaco – with Free Practice 1 taking place at 9am UK time. FP2 commences at 1pm later that afternoon, before the annual day off on Friday. Qualifying and the race also begin at 1pm, on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
The whole buzz of the place makes for something really special. It’s a race that each and every fan needs to experience at some time in their life. It’s Formula 1 with a festival feel. Jolyon Palmer , Renault Sport F1 Team