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 denitely 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