Jolyon Palmer rescued what could have been a disappointing weekend in the GP2 curtain-raiser in Malaysia with two top ten finishes.
On the Southwater racer’s debut for new team Carlin, a sticking throttle hampered qualifying, and he had to settle for 23rd on the grid in Saturday’s feature race.
But Palmer made a lightning start as the lights went out and managed to survive heavy contact from DAMS driver Marcus Ericsson to overtake a string of cars and gain ten places by the end of the opening lap.
He continued to push throughout the race and thanks to a late pit stop strategy was leading the field at the midway point. On lap 20 he pitted and re-emerged in sixth place, where he remained until the chequered flag to secure eight championship points. “I made a great start and had a good first two laps and then I just focused on pushing as hard as possible,” said Palmer. “We had a good strategy and the pit stop was perfect.”
For Sunday’s Sprint Race Palmer was due to start in third position thanks to the championship’s reverse grid system. But after stalling his car on the green flag lap he was forced to start at the back of the field from the pit lane, he produced another stirring comeback drive to end ninth and just one place off a second points finish.
He added: “I think one more lap and I would have been in the points. It’s good to know that if I had started third we could have won the race comfortably but at the same time it’s frustrating to have dropped points. We are definitely in good shape for Bahrain though.”