Jolyon Palmer, once again did not have a great race. He started P20 and added a third DNF to his 2017 tally. Palmer needed a good weekend to end speculation that he is failing to make the grade in F1 and that his seat is likely to be up for grabs in 2018 if he cannot prove his is championship material, he did not get it.
Palmer retired from the race with an engine failure, not his fault. Palmer managed only 4 laps on free practice three before his car caught fire, caused by a high-pressure fuel leak so missed out on Saturday qualifying, adding another painful setback after crashing out during Friday’s practice session. Expensive weekend. It would seem if it could have gone wrong for the former GP2 Champion it did.
Jolyon limped to the startline on Sunday with problems showing before the first lights went on, the car retiring lap 7 .
“I experienced a misfire on the way to the grid; it got worse and ultimately the drivability was so poor that we had no choice but to retire the car. I made a decent start and then some overtakes into P15 so the start of my race was okay. It’s just been one of those weekends; I can’t remember ever having so few laps over a race weekend”
Palmer hopes to head to Austria with a reliable car to have a chance to “show what I can do.”
Team boss Cyril Abiteboul was quick, as you would expect to publicly defend his driver during the team representative press conference when asked (again) what Jolyon needed to do to keep his seat with reference to his crash, his answer:
” …our situation is very clear: he has a contract with us; we are completely committed to helping him get through the period, which is a tough period, that’s obvious. He has no ultimatum, but having said that he has to deliver, like every single member of the team. But I think what will help him is that frankly we take him out of the spotlight under which he is constantly, in particular in starting the first day, Friday, and all the media focus, all the media attention, is not necessarily helping. Obviously you have to do what you have to do, and ask the questions, which you feel are the right ones. But that doesn’t help…” “… We are trying our best to protect him but at the same time to do the best as a team to explain to him what we are expecting and we had that type of conversation with him yesterday…”
On the race performance, the Managing Director had little really to be positive about other than the Renault powered Red Bull achieving an unexpected victory, helped enormously by the chaotic events happening throughout the race.
“On a day like today, a double DNF is the worst that can happen to the team both in terms of race result and in terms of championship position. We need to understand and immediately address the technical issues that prevented Jolyon to even participate, and Nico to start higher in the grid this weekend. We saw a highly unusual and eventful Grand Prix today and we will do all we can to make sure that this will be our only double DNF of the season. The only positive note is that a Red Bull Racing car finished on the highest step of the podium, which, on a track like Baku, is a great reward to the efforts made in bringing extra power to our customers.”
One thing is for sure, Red Bull seem to have a much better package all round and I am sure the pressure is on to perform from the top down. In every situation like this, in business Sh** rolls down hill and something is going to get kicked at some point.
Palmer, who failed to win a drive in GP2 despite reigning champion tried his hand at GP2 commentary before Joining Renault F1. He finished 18th with just one point during the 2016 season, and has yet to score this campaign. In contrast, team-mate Nico Hulkenberg has scored 18 points.