Renault Sport F1 Team’s Jolyon Palmer heads to this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit for the first time as a Formula One driver however it is a track that the Englishman knows very well having won here previously.
In Australia two weeks ago, on his Formula One debut, Palmer not only out-qualified Kevin Magnussen his more experienced team mate but he also out performed him in the race too just missing out on a points finish in 11th place.
Taking part in pre Bahrain team Q&A Palmer was asked:
Jolyon, how would you review your first race weekend as a Formula 1 driver?
I really enjoyed it. Everything went very smoothly. I had a good qualifying and then maximised the car in the race. I was happy with the race; I had a good start and was wheel to wheel for quite a long time, scrapping hard – it was great fun. I wanted to get to the finish, and you always dream of stealing a point, but I just missed it with P11, which is really frustrating! But we can definitely build on this. In Australia we didn’t have any more pace in the car, but it was an encouraging start.
Did your dad give you any tips?
Not really! The only thing he kept saying was to drink – he kept repeating that I needed to say hydrated, but that was his only expert guidance! He let me get on with it…
How did you feel coming back to racing after a year out?
It felt completely normal. The difference from GP2 to F1 is that there are bigger variables. People are on different tyres and strategies, so you have to work out whether you can realistically fight and keep position, but it was not a problem. I had some good battles and really enjoyed it.
And how have you found the team?
I feel at home in the team. The team is operationally very good and we have more developments coming. The car is nicely balanced, the pace is good – all in all, it was a strong start, especially considering the takeover was completed just before Christmas. We have upgrades coming all the time and it should not be too long before we can fight for points consistently.
What can we expect from you in Bahrain?
I raced there in GP2 and it’s a track I have been successful on in the past. I won the last race I did there, then I also had a podium. I also drove in practice last year. The track is OK. There are a lot of straights so plenty of overtaking opportunities, so we will find out more about the car in this trim. There is a lot of track evolution as it is very sandy at the start of weekend, and then the track gets more and more rubber down, so conditions change a lot. The weather is almost always sunny, but it can be quite windy, which can blow sand onto the track. The fact it’s a night race is pretty interesting as it’s still very dry. In terms of set up, practice 1 and 3 are hard as they are a lot hotter than the race but there is a lot we can do in procedural terms, such as aero tests. I will be more relaxed now I have one race under my belt, particularly as I finished all 58 laps. I feel much more comfortable after pre-season testing and am looking forward to going to a track I know and have won at before.