Jolyon Palmer is a British racing driver who spent two season in Formula One World Championship, driving for Renault Sport F1 Team in 2016 and 2017. He recorded 35 starts, scoring points just two times.
Jolyon is a son of Jonathan Palmer, the ex F1 driver and UK circuit holder. Since the beginning of his career in 2005, Jolyon has proved himself to be more than just a kid with a famous last name. Before entering Formula One, he competed in various open-wheel series and his biggest achievement is the 2014 GP2 Series title.
Debuted in car racing as a 14-year-old boy
Jolyon was born on January 20, 1991 in Horsham in West Suusex. He began racing career at the age of 13, driving MiniMax karts. In 2005, he moved up to T Cars, the UK racing series open exclusively to drivers between 14 and 17. He finished fifth in his debuting year. In 2006, he also managed to finish fifth but dominated the Autumn Trophy by winning four of the six races. He started 2007 season with two wins in two races but decided to concentrate on Formula Palmer Audi.
Formula Palmer Audi as a first step in the international racing
Formula Palmer Audi was the series which Jonathan Palmer created in 1998 as a low cost alternative to Formula 3. Jolyon finished 12th in his first race at Silverstone, but his results improved during the season, earning him 10th place in the final standings with two wins (Brands Hatch and Oulton Park) in 15 races. He missed the final two rounds, due to an injury from a quad accident at his home in West Sussex.
Third in a 2008 FPA season
In 2008 season, his consistent driving with one victory (at Spa) and 11 podiums earned him the third place, along with the third in Autumn Trophy and FPA Shootout. He continued to race in the Formula Palmer Audi in 2009, but only for a half of the season. He switched to the FIA Formula Two Championship.
Runner-up in the 2010 Formula Two season
In the Audi-powered Williams JPH1, which was the official car of Formula Two championship, Jolyon competed in sixteen races and finished 21st in the final classification. Sixth place at Imola was his best result.
Jolyon was much more successful in 2010 season of Formula Two. He started the season with a victory at Silverstone. He won both races at Monza, one race at Algarve and one race at Brno. With five wins and ten podiums he finished the season in second place, just behind Dean Stoneman, a fellow Briton.
Not so successful debuting GP2 season
Three seasons in GP2 Series followed with mediocre results. In 2011, Palmer was driving for the Arden International team alongside Josef Kral. He scored a top ten finish on his debut weekend at Abu Dhabi and again at Istanbul and Valencia. Without wins, podiums and points, he finished in the championship standings as a not-classified. He competed also in four races of GP2 Asia Series, but without notable results. At non-championship GP2 Finals at Abu Dhabi, he finally scored his first podium, with third place in the first race.
Maiden GP2 victory at Monte-Carlo
The season 2012 was a little bit better. He moved to iSport International team, alongside Marcus Ericsson. He took a maiden GP2 victory in a sprint race at Monaco. Two more podiums followed at Silverstone and Monza, so Jolyon finished 11th in the drivers' standings.
Step by step improvement
He was improving step by step and he scored two wins in 2013 GP2 Series season, driving for Carlin and partnering Felipe Nasr. Jolyon was a winner at Hungaroring and Singapore. He added second place at Abu Dhabi and finished 7th in the championship.
Dominant performance in 2014 GP2 season
Jolyon returned stronger than ever in 2014. Driving for DAMS, he scored four wins and seven more podiums. Palmer dominantly won the championship and set the new GP2 record with 276 points, the most points ever scored during one season. He was the first Briton since Lewis Hamilton to win the series.
First F1 test with Sahara Force India
In a post-season Formula One test at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit Jolyon participated with the Sahara Force India F1 team. In December, he was invited to compete in the 2014 Race of Champions held at the Bushy Park circuit in Barbados. Palmer competed in the Nations Cup event for Team Young Stars, with DTM driver Pascal Wehrlein as his team-mate. They stuck in the group phase. In the individual Race of Champions event, Palmer lost to Tom Kristensen, Pascal Wehrlein and Ryan-Hunter Reay.
Three GP2 champions in the same team
Jolyon's hard work and determination weren't left unnoticed. In January 2015, Jolyon Palmer joined Lotus F1 Team as a test and reserve driver. His team-mates were former GP2 champions Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean. It was the first time that three GP2 champions were together in the same F1 team.
13 Grand Prix practice sessions in 2015
Palmer debuted in the Mercedes-powered Lotus E23 Hybrid car at the official pre-season test in Barcelona. During 2015 Formula One Championship season he participated in 13 Grand Prix races as a test driver in the free practice sessions. His had a final appearance in the Lotus E23 Hybrid at the last race of the season at Abu Dhabi.
Impressive F1 debut at 2016 Australian Grand Prix
At the end of 2015, Renault took over Lotus F1 team and renamed it to Renault Sport F1 Team. Jolyon Palmer was announced as a full-season driver for the new Renault team, together with Kevin Magnussen. Jolyon Palmer debuted in Formula One with #30 car at Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park. He impressed everybody with 11th place.
Palmer missed the next race in Bahrain, pulling off into the pit lane before the race due to hydraulic failure on his car. Later in the season he was often close to the points but never better then 12th place. He scored his maiden point at Sepang International Circuit in October, finishing 10th at the Malaysian Grand Prix. With that single point, he was classified 18th in the drivers' standings at the end of the season.
Renault replaced Palmer with Sainz during the 2017 season
For the 2017 Formula One season, Palmer stayed with Renault, getting Nico Hulkenberg as a new teammate. The results were disappointing, with just one point-scoring finish at Singapore Grand Prix where Palmer was sixth. After sixteen rounds, he was replaced by Carlos Sainz. Since then, Palmer is out of racing, having no find an arrangement in another competition.