Jolyon Palmer’s Formula 1 story has come to an end, for the time being at least. And once again he found himself finishing a race without any points to show for his efforts.
He’s finished in the top ten only once all season, in Singapore. And now he won’t get a chance to improve on that further in 2017.
It was announced on Saturday that this would be be his final race with the Renault F1 team. His place will be taken at the United States Grand Prix by Carlos Sainz. While the news had come as a surprise to many in the paddock, Palmer said he had known in advance.
“It’s been pretty clear,” he told Sky Sports F1 in Suzuka. “Carlos is signed for next year and Cyril [Abiteboul, Renault managing director] made it clear he wanted to put him in the car this year as well.
“After this race is a couple of weeks gap, and it made sense for this to be the time to part ways.
“It’s been a bit of a strange weekend knowing this was going to be the last one with the team,” Palmer admitted. “I’ve been with the team now three years. It’s a shame not to be going to Austin with them.
“But I respect the decision and wish the team still the best for the future,” he said. “We go our separate ways and I’ll work on something else for my future.”
As of right now, Palmer admitted that he didn’t know what that future would entail.
“When I’m sat on the plane on the way back home, probably it will sink in that I certainly won’t be back for Renault and maybe not in Formula 1 again.”
“It’s a shame, but I’ll move on. There’s plenty more to life out there, I think, and I’m about to find out what it is,” he commented. “That’s Formula 1. These things happen.”
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The prospect of putting his feet up rather than facing the unremitting pressure and scrutiny in the paddock was little consolation.
“I would love to see out the season and finish what I’d started,” he admitted. “The stress levels have been pretty huge this year. It’s been a very tough season for many reasons.
“Each weekend turning up with some question marks, with the pressure coming on more and more as the season hasn’t unfolded like we’d hoped. But I’d happily have seen out the season.
“I think the team is in a good place even if we haven’t shown it the last couple of weekends,” he pointed out.
As for his final outing with Renault this weekend, his pre-race grid penalties for power unit changes sealed his fate long before the lights went out.
“I knew I was going to have an engine penalty here. From 18th on the grid, I think finishing 12th is about as good as we could have done,” he said.
“If we’d had one more lap then I was four seconds quicker than Massa and right on his arse at the end, so we maybe could have had a point. Nonetheless I’m happy to have seen the flag.”
That was more than his team mate Nico Hulkenberg was able to manage. The German driver retired from the race on lap 40 with an issue with his DRS.
“It’s a shame,” said Hulkenberg. “A small metal component broke on the DRS mechanism which left it stuck open. We’ll look at why it broke as we missed a good opportunity.
“A good points haul was possible today,” he added.