Jolyon Palmer


Re­nault’s rookie F1 racer on fly­ing with­out wings, why he’s a bet­ter driver than his fa­ther (and his brother), and his bold am­bi­tions for push­ing his first name into the main­stream

A novice F1 driver can be un­der­stand­ably re­served when deal­ing with the me­dia. Un­der the pres­sure of prov­ing them­selves wor­thy of a race seat, some are guarded when they know they will be quoted – and, in­deed, of­ten mis­quoted.

Not so Jolyon Palmer, who has re­mained hon­est and en­gag­ing even after a re­serve role at Lo­tus evolved into a fully edged Re­nault drive. And since his fa­ther, Jonathan, also raced in F1, Palmer is well equipped to deal with all the pe­riph­eral du­ties ex­pected of a grand prix driver.

Sit­ting in the cor­ner of the very yel­low Re­nault mo­torhome on its rst race ap­pear­ance of the sea­son at the Cir­cuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Palmer is full of op­ti­mism. And armed with a pile of read­ers ques­tions, he in­sists he is primed to at­tack ev­ery­thing you have to throw at him.

Is your brother [Will] faster than you? Alex Ch­ester, UK Ab­so­lutely not! But he’s got the best coach, which is me, so he might get some­where near! But no, I’m denitely faster… F1R: For now? JP: For­ever! He’s do­ing well, though.

What did it feel like to line up on the grid for the rst time in Aus­tralia? Lu­cas Wil­son, UK In­cred­i­ble. I’d al­ways watched F1, dreaming of be­ing there… and sud­denly I’m there. Get­ting out of the car on the grid, the na­tional an­them – the whole pro­ce­dure was sur­real. When you’re there you’re so fo­cused on the start that you’re caught up in the mo­ment, but it was a very cool feel­ing.

Other than your dad, which driver has most in­spired you? Mark Dun­can, UK Prob­a­bly, I would say, Fer­nando Alonso. I was sup­port­ing him when he was driv­ing for Re­nault in 2005-2006 and he nally beat Schu­macher. But he was a driver I looked up to when I was in GP2 as well, be­cause he was de­liv­er­ing the most from his car the whole time. Even if he was rarely in the fastest car he was man­ag­ing to ght for cham­pi­onships and tak­ing race wins against the odds, which is some­thing the best driv­ers do. F1R: The ques­tion says ‘other than your dad’ but is it even re­gard­less of him? JP: Re­gard­less of him… as a driver he didn’t in­spire me be­cause I was born after he stopped rac­ing. There are more in­spi­ra­tional driv­ers out there than my dad; he did a good job, but what Fer­nando did is prob­a­bly more in­spi­ra­tional.

Are you a bet­ter driver than your dad? Al­lan Scott, UK I’m bet­ter than my brother and my dad as well! He usu­ally ac­cepts that. He hasn’t driven any­thing for a long time… I think he was good back in his day but there were a lot more cars in For­mula 1 at that time. He had a good stint, I think he was quite happy, but I think I’m bet­ter.

What do you think about head pro­tec­tion? Karol Pi­fotek, Poland I’m quite happy with the cur­rent level of head pro­tec­tion in For­mula 1, per­son­ally. I think it’s

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