Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was delighted to score his first “overdue” Formula 1 point after finishing tenth in the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend.
The British driver, who is competing in his first F1 season this year, finally scored his first point after 16 races.
Palmer was one two drivers to utilise a one-stop strategy – the other was Williams’ Valtteri Bottas who finished fifth – during the race at Sepang, which forced him to concentrate on keeping his tyres in good condition throughout the 56-lap Grand Prix.
After becoming the 59th British driver to score an F1 point – 27 years after his father Jonathan scored his final F1 point at the 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix – Palmer described his joy at the result, which came a day after he was frustrated at qualifying 19th.
He said: “The race was really smooth – I wish it was always so straightforward. I was really disappointed with how qualifying went especially as I’d been feeling strong all weekend, so I’m glad the race went really well and we could make up for it today.
“The car gave me everything I needed, we handled the tyres well and the team did a great job with strategy and pit stops. We got a little bit of a break as well; finally everything came together and we got it home to P10.”
Palmer had the chance to score his first F1 top ten finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this season, but lost out when he spun his RS16 towards the end of that race.
The 25-year-old told Autosport that he had used the memory of his mistake in Hungary as motivation to to help him deliver this time around and stay out of the clutches of Carlos Sainz, who finished 11th for Toro Rosso.
He said: “After Hungary it was in my head, and in the last 10 laps I thought ‘just keep it on the track’.
“But I learned from it, kept focused, no mistakes, just kept the gap to Sainz, and then in the end I managed to stretch away in the last couple of laps.
“We had a little bit more in reserve, but I’m always learning and the trend is still improving throughout the year, even if sometimes like in qualifying I didn’t show well.”
Palmer also conceded that he had been fortunate to make it into the points as a result of Lewis Hamilton’s engine failure, but felt he deserved a break after being disappointed not to score earlier in his rookie year.
“I got a little bit of luck with Lewis and someone else dropping out, but I think we’re overdue it,” he said.
“So many times we were close, there was something going against us, but this time I was feeling good in the car, and we got a break, which was nice.”
Renault’s team principal Frederic Vasseur praised Palmer’s performance in the Malaysian race as he made his Pirelli tyres last long enough to execute the one-stop strategy.
He said: “Congratulations to Jo for scoring his first point in Formula 1. After a disappointing qualifying yesterday he got his head down and delivered a very good race.
“We ran to an aggressive strategy and Jo did everything required to make this work so a great effort from him and the team today.”
Magnussen “the filling in the sandwich” at Turn 1
Palmer’s Renault teammate Kevin Magnussen retired from the race in Sepang as a result of the damage he sustained in a first corner clash with Haas F1’s Esteban Gutierrez and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.
The Dane was hit by Kvyat and then ran into the back of Gutierrez as they all attempted to avoid the spinning Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, who had been knocked around by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Magnussen explained that he was left with nowhere to go as the midfield cars came together, but conceded that it was simply a racing incident.
He said: “I was the filling in the sandwich as everyone reacted to the Vettel [and] Rosberg incident at the start.
“Everyone braked and went for the inside of the corner which isn’t great if you’re already at the inside of the corner and have contact from behind pushing you forward.
“[But] that’s motor racing sometimes. We changed the front wing and kept pushing, however the brake cooling was damaged, and the brake temperature kept climbing, so we had to retire.”
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