Palmer ends Renault ca­reer as Hamilton starts on pole

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Tom Cary in Suzuka

To­day’s Ja­panese Grand Prix, for which Lewis Hamilton qual­i­fied on pole, will be Jolyon Palmer’s last for Renault, it was con­firmed yes­ter­day.

The Bri­ton will be re­placed by Span­ish driver Car­los Sainz Jnr for the last four races of the sea­son. Sainz was due to join from Toro Rosso at the end of the sea­son, but Renault said in a state­ment that the team and Palmer had agreed to end their re­la­tion­ship by mu­tual con­sent af­ter to­day’s race.

“The Ja­panese Grand Prix will be my last race for Renault. It’s been an ex­tremely chal­leng­ing sea­son and I’ve been through a lot in the last three years, but it’s been a tremen­dous jour­ney over­all with the team,” Palmer said.

“My im­me­di­ate fo­cus is now on achiev­ing the best pos­si­ble re­sult in the Ja­panese GP, and then I can as­sess my op­tions for the fu­ture.” Palmer said last week­end in Malaysia that he had a num­ber of “op­tions” for next sea­son, but did not elab­o­rate on what they were. He did in­di­cate that he would pre­fer not to race in the United States.

Toro Rosso moved quickly to con­firm their line-up. Daniil Kvyat will come in from the cold af­ter he was re­placed in Malaysia by Pierre Gasly, who will stay for the rest of the sea­son.

In yes­ter­day’s qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion, Hamilton set a qual­i­fy­ing lap record of 1min 27.319sec in his Mercedes as he claimed the 71st pole of his ca­reer – and his first at Suzuka. The 32-year-old, who leads Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel by 34 points, said it felt in­cred­i­ble to have such a good feel­ing in the car at an iconic track. “The car is crazy here,” he grinned. “Mind-blow­ing. I wish you could feel what I feel. It’s in­sane the speeds, the way you are able to throw the car around, like the cra­zi­est roller­coaster ride. It’s go­ing to be a dif­fer­ent view from the front. Nat­u­rally the Fer­raris will be rapid in race pace, but I plan on keep­ing them be­hind me.” Vet­tel qual­i­fied along­side him on the front row de­spite set­ting what was only the third-fastest time of the day, with Hamilton’s team-mate Valt­teri Bot­tas tak­ing a five-place grid penalty for a change of gear­box. McLaren’s Fer­nando Alonso was hit with an in­cred­i­ble 35-place grid penalty for break­ing cur­few, us­ing an eighth en­gine, a 10th turbo, a 10th MGU-H, an eighth MGU-K, a seventh bat­tery store and a sixth con­trol elec­tron­ics unit.

Last hur­rah: Jolyon Palmer will leave Renault af­ter Suzuka and is be­ing re­placed by Car­los Sainz

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