READY, SET… GO!
while waiting on the sidelines, After a season spent in Friday practice gathering valuable experience GP2 champion Jolyon sessions for Lotus, 2014 2016. F1 race debut in March Palmer will make his just after the announcement We caught up with him
It’s an overcast afternoon in Mexico City and Jolyon Palmer suddenly nds he has a little time to himself to take a stroll around the Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City, which houses the newly revised Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
Opportunities to walk a track in relative peace come more frequently to test drivers, but since Palmer was conrmed as a Lotus race driver for 2016, his time is coming under increasing demand from engineers, sponsors and the media. F1 Racing has managed to get a slot this afternoon to accompany Palmer on an anticlockwise walk around the newly laid start/nish straight and into the stadium section of the new Mexican GP track.
But before we head off, Lotus’s PR chief Andy Stobart issues a stern warning: “He must be back in the paddock for 4.15pm for a live interview with the BBC.” Jolyon himself is no stranger to the microphone, having played a role in GP2 comms throughout 2015, while his father, Jonathan, followed a decade-long career racing in F1 with a stint as Murray Walker’s sidekick at the BBC after the death of James Hunt in 1993.
We pause so Jolyon can be photographed on pole position. When he makes his debut next March, he will be hoping he is closer to the front of the grid than his father was when he last started a grand prix. The records show that JP Senior lined up 26th and last for Tyrrell at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix.
Jolyon spent 2015 as a reserve driver for Lotus, but a race seat became available following Romain Grosjean’s departure to the edgling Haas F1 team. Jolyon’s relaxed demeanour should provide a calming counterbalance to the exuberance of team-mate Pastor Maldonado in the Lotus garage for 2016.
For now, Palmer is in Mexico and poised to make his 11th Friday morning practice run of the year. From the outside, FP1 might seem routine, but for a rookie these sessions are invaluable in terms of learning the complex procedures that are a part of modern F1.
“There is no substitute for driving an F1 car,” says Palmer as we look down the long straight towards Turn 1. “To be out in FP1 gives me a chance to prove what I can do. I’m not trying to set a new lap record, but equally I’m not hanging about. It focuses me to prove myself as it’s my only session of the weekend.”
In the latter half of 2015, Palmer’s seat time in a couple of the 90-minute sessions on Friday morning has been curtailed for reasons beyond his control. FP1 in Hungary was thwarted by the team’s nancial difculties and the related late delivery of their tyre allocation. Then heavy rain struck in both Suzuka and Austin. But in