Opinion: Jolyon Palmer criticism is unjustified and unfair

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Jolyon Palmer has faced online criticism following his retirement in the 2017 Russian Grand Prix.

After suffering troubles with his chassis and power unit in the days before the Russian Grand Prix, Jolyon Palmer was hoping his fortunes would turn around for Sunday’s race.

However, the Renault driver found himself out of the Grand Prix before the end of the first lap after he got tangled up with Romain Grosjean at Turn 2 on the Sochi Autodrom.

This was Palmer’s second crash of the weekend and it forced many on Twitter to question his form in 2017, which has yet to see him score points.

Just go home man stop wasting everyone’s time @JolyonPalmer” wrote Andres Nino.

Jolyon Palmer is like Pastor Maldonado without the hilarity and the ridiculousness,” were the words used by Luke McCarthy-Reed.

‘Jdunn’ felt it necessary to post this tweet too: “I can’t wait for Lewis Hamilton to retire and Britain has the likes of Jolyon Palmer representing.

And, that’s made me question, is this hate speech coming toward Jolyon Palmer completely justified? Absolutely not.

In Australia, his weekend preparations were heavily marred when he was only able to complete a total of 10 laps on Friday. In that weekend, a technical issue with the gearbox limited Palmer’s opening practice session to just six laps. Later that day in FP2, he was involved in a session ending shunt at the final corner on the Albert Park circuit after just four laps of running.

Saturday didn’t get much better for him as he could only qualify 20th and last due to a fuel surge forcing him to the garage in the closing minutes of Q1. After the session, Palmer wildly speculated to media, “there’s something not quite right.”

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Jolyon Palmer on track during Russian Grand Prix qualifying, a session he unfortunately would crash in.

His race didn’t go all that much better; a sticky brake pedal, another issue completely out of his control, forced his retirement on lap 15.

However, just hours after the conclusion of the Australian Grand Prix, Renault identified an issue with the rear anti-roll bars on Palmer’s RS17 chassis. Ironically, his wild speculations after qualifying came true as there was indeed something wrong with his chassis that didn’t allow him to perform properly.

Because of this, it’s hard to put any blame on Palmer for his admittedly below-par performances in Australia.

After China’s first two practice sessions were both effectively cancelled, Palmer again missed out on a proper Friday of running. But, that didn’t stop him from hitting the track running in FP3, where he proved his car had Q3 pace by finishing in 9th place. And, he was most likely to achieve such a position in the actual qualifying session had it not been for Antonio Giovanazzi, who’s violent crash in Q1 forced Palmer to abort his final quicker lap in Q1, ending any chance of progressing to Q2.

Palmer was forced to start his second successive race from P20 and Renault struggled with their overall race pace. Palmer’s team mate Nico Hulkenberg would come home in P12 with Palmer just behind in an uneventful, but relieving, P13.

Palmer said after the Chinese weekend that his plan was, “to Bahrain with the objective of a much better weekend.”

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Palmer (right) in discussion with his engineer before the Russian Grand Prix.

And, Bahrain was shaping up to be an outstanding weekend after two incident-free Friday practice sessions and an eventual spot in Q3. Unfortunately, Bahrain exposed the main weakness of the RS17: their race pace. Both Hulkenberg and Palmer struggled with their tires throughout and they were forced to settle with less than impressive positions of P9 and P13 respectively. Palmer described the race as a “difficult evening.”

This race pace issue is no mimic and has majorly affected Renault so far in 2017. “[W]e are currently qualifying better than we race and that’s a symptom of our current car performance,” Renault’s Chief Technical Officer, Bob Bell, told Autosport during Bahrain’s in-season test. This in-of-itself proves that Palmer is not wholly responsible for admittedly poor results so far. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/129170

The team trialled a new front wing during the aforementioned test, which they hope will fix the issue that has stopped both Hulkenberg and Palmer from finishing higher in 2017.

As touched on earlier, Russia’s weekend was no easier than the previous three for Palmer. After smooth sailing throughout Friday, a change to his chassis and power unit on Saturday morning forced him in to a blind qualifying session. Palmer eventually hit the barrier at Turn 5 in Q1, ending his session early. He hinted the accident was caused by his lack of running on the ultrasoft tires earlier in the day as he told media, “I was on the back foot slightly with missing FP3.”

Sunday’s incident at Turn 2 on the opening lap with Romain Grosjean – which forced both drivers into immediate retirement – was judged to be a racing incident by stewards. Those on Twitter were quick to criticize Palmer, who has now been ruled to have played just as large of part as Romain Grosjean.

Palmer said the incident, “was a shame for both of us (Grosjean) really.”

In conclusion, when reviewing Palmer’s season thus far, the fact can’t be denied that it has been poor. Hulkenberg has had two points finishes and three Q3 appearances to Palmer’s nil points and solitary appearance in Q3 at Bahrain.

But, these poor performances haven’t become Palmer isn’t good enough. So far, he’s suffered a total of six car issues over two weekends that have gone on to affect his performance. In essence, Palmer and Renault have been unable to have an issue-free weekend.

So, to those who are writing harsh words on Twitter and calling for Palmer’s axing (like Kiko Giles who wrote, “Time to replace.”), you should wait until you’ve seen him have a half-decent weekend where his machinery allows him to perform to the best of his ability.

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Steven Walton is a 18 year old student currently attending St Andrews College in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was bought up with two older brothers and his big passions are sports (especially motorsport), people and writing.

2 thoughts on “Opinion: Jolyon Palmer criticism is unjustified and unfair

  1. So, being 1.2 seconds slower in Q3 in Bahrain for example and about a second slower in Q1 in Russia is a good performance then?

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  2. Palmer certainly hasn’t helped his own cause by scathing criticisms of his team in Australia. His austere demeanour is rather unpleasant at times and his junior track record is questionable.

    2007 Formula Palmer Audi- 10th, 2008 Formula Palmer Audi 3rd (3 wins in 35 races), 2009 F2- 21st (3 pts), 2010 F2- 2nd (5 wins), 2011 GP2- 28th (0 pts), 2012 GP2- 11th, 2013 GP2- 7th, 2014 GP2 (1st). 7 wins in 92 GP2 races.

    Hulkenberg can be quick, but inconsistent himself. Therefore Palmer is having problems with this year’s regs and I suspect his relationship with the team is beginning to slide. Look at the Toro Rosso & Haas, who have been having handling and brake issues, but only once did Grosjean crash in practice and that was from brake failure. When I watch Palmer drive, he’s trying too hard and he’s carrying too much speed and his steering is too erratic.

    And BTW, Andres Nino and others are clearly jesting at their insults of Palmer. Palmer, for whatever reason, needs to start lapping closer to Hulk’s pace, considering Hulk has been outscored by Perez (just a year older than Palmer) in the past 2 years at Force India (and Perez is outperforming Ocon, who’s 20 and much younger).

    I read your article about Kimi Raikkonen. What you need to know is Kimi is a driver who needs the car to set up very precisely and in a particular way at all times. He’s very poor with understeer, something he’s struggled since his karting days (“If the front doesn’t bite, then I don’t like it.”) He needs the front end to turn in properly without him needing to increase the lock of steering into the entry of the corner. Kimi tends bend his car through corners with a “V” shape, where he saves his tyres and travels through the corner with the least distance. Compared to Seb, who has a higher energy driving style, therefore able to heat his tyres up much more quickly and more aggressively (although this has left him prone to faster tyre degrading in the past).
    Yeah Kimi has personality quirks, but he also has quirks in his driving style. Trust me, having been a fan of his since 2002, when the car’s right, he’ll come right.

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