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Renault launch: Palmer "proud to be a Brit in F1"- How long will adventure last?

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Renault launch: Palmer "proud to be a Brit in F1"- How long will adventure last?
Feb 4, 2016, 1:16 PM

Jolyon Palmer was confirmed as a race driver with Renault in 2016 yesterday and the 25-year-old described his pride at becoming the latest British ...

Jolyon Palmer was confirmed as a race driver with Renault in 2016 yesterday and the 25-year-old described his pride at becoming the latest British driver to take part in F1

And while the driver he thought he would partner, Pastor Maldonado, is now out of F1 after 95 Grands Prix, Palmer, who was the team’s reserve driver when it was known as Lotus in 2015, outlined his goal to add to his country’s long history in the sport.

Speaking at Renault’s 2016 launch event in Paris yesterday, Palmer said: “I’m very proud to be a Brit in F1. It’s a country that’s the home of motorsport [as] a lot of the teams are based in the UK.

Jolyon Palmer

“[It has had] a lot of involvement in the past and a great history with a lot of famous champions that have done very well. It’s my goal to be the next one."

Palmer’s deal to race in F1 this year was announced by Lotus last October, but the 2014 GP2 champion explained that he had always had a contract with Renault as it prepared to buy back the Enstone outfit.

He said: “For me there wasn’t [any doubt about deal]. When I signed my deal it was with Renault as well as with Lotus so I knew where I stood.

“The uncertainty was just whether Renault was actually going to go through with buying the team and when that was confirmed it was a very exciting time. Now seeing the level of dedication they’ve got, it’s great to be a part of it.”

Jolyon Palmer

Palmer believes it is too early to set any concrete targets for the season ahead, which he expects will be a rebuilding year for the team. The former GP2 champion, is the son of former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, who is always ingenious when it comes to funding and finance. Palmer brings budget to the team, but he has the right to sell part of the cockpit sides to sponsors in his agreement.

In a works backed outfit, as Renault now is, performance on track is more important than funding and for Palmer's adventure to last more than a single season, he will have to perform strongly against team mate Kevin Magnussen. There will be plenty of predators for the Renault seats next season, including experienced names as well as the young French protege Estaban Ocon, the reserve driver, who is very highly rated.

Palmer said: “It’s too early to set any specific targets, apart from the fact that it’s not going to be an easy year rebuilding from what was Lotus.

“It’s impossible to say right now where we’re going to be on the grid because we don’t know what we’re capable of and we definitely don’t know what anyone else is capable of.

“But by the time we’ve finished testing then we’ll understand a bit more and then targets will come. But definitely it’s going to be a rebuilding year for a better future.”

Jolyon Palmer

Palmer, who took part in 13 practice sessions for Lotus in 2015, described how feeling satisfied with his efforts in his rookie year was his own personal minimum target.

He said: “I want to achieve the best I can achieve, so that [means] to be sat at the end of the Abu Dhabi race getting changed at the end of the race and be thinking, ‘that was a good year, I’m happy with that [and] I couldn’t have done much better.’”

With just two seats at Manor yet to be confirmed to complete the F1 grid, Palmer is so far the only rookie driver announced for 2016, but he does not expect that lack of experience will hinder him thanks to his previous track time with Lotus.

He said: “It’s not easy to be a rookie – especially as I think I might be the only rookie on the grid this year so everyone else has got some experience. But at the same time I’ve got some good driving experience from last year doing the practices.”

Jolyon Palmer

For 2016, Palmer will be partnered at Renault with former McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen, who signed a contract with the team to replace Maldonado earlier this week.

The Venezuelan’s deal with Renault fell apart in the last few weeks due to funding problems with PDVSA, Maldonado’s backer, and Palmer expressed sympathy for his former colleague and described his cordial relationship with Magnussen.

He said: “It’s a shame the way that [Maldonado] has left because he would have gone through the winter expecting to drive as well and Pastor is a nice guy who I worked with for a year.

“So it’s a shame for him but I have no idea what the situation is – it’s been a little bit messy for him over the winter [and] he’ll be fighting hard to return, I’m sure. But I’m focused on myself, selfishly, and working with Kevin as a new teammate.

Jolyon Palmer Kevin Magnussen

“Pastor can be a very quick driver – he’s erratic [but] he can be quick and can be tough competition, and I know Kevin can be the same [as] he’s got a good track record in the season that he’s done.

“Personally of course you want to match up well to your teammate but the goal hasn’t changed. I’ll just drive as fast as I can and do what I can and see what happens.

“I’ve known him for a year few years – he’s a nice guy and we get on quite well. If we can continue to do so then that will be good for the team and we can start to go places."

Jolyon Palmer Kevin Magnussen

What do you expect from Jolyon Palmer in 2016? Could he one day become an F1 world champion? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Kevin Magnussen