Jolyon Palmer has spoken of the ‘unbelievable’ feeling of achieving his dream on becoming a Formula 1 driver.
The Southwater racer has been handed a full-time race seat with the Lotus F1 Team for the 2016 season.
He has been promoted from his current third and reserve team role to complete the team’s driver line-up next year alongside Pastor Maldonado.
At the weekend a fellow Brit ended up stealing the headlines after securing himself legendary status in sport, meaning Palmer, whose career has already stark similarities to Lewis Hamilton’s, has plenty to live up to.
The 24-year-old will now have the chance to follow in his ex-F1 driving father, Jonathan’s footsteps at the pinnacle of motorsport.
The news came after torrential rain forecast for the US Grand Prix weekend in Austin, saw Palmer’s practice runs shelved, but the clouds had a silver lining for the former Cranleigh School pupil.
He became the first Briton to win the feeder-series GP2 Series last year since Hamilton in 2006 after an outstanding record-breaking season.
And a successful start to life on the sidelines in the prime places this season, has got the young race ace hungry for the long-awaited step up.
He said: “It feels pretty unbelievable! It’s been such a long journey and I’m so glad to have been confirmed as a race driver with the team next year. A lot of hard work has gone into preparing for this to happen and into proving what I’m capable of delivering.
“I’m very grateful to everyone who has so far helped me at the team; I’m now looking forward to 2016 and to build on the experience that I already have.
“Getting into Formula 1 has never been harder. When I won GP2 in 2014 I felt that I was ready to move up back then so it feels like it has been a long time coming.
“At the same time, this year has been very good. I have enjoyed working with the team and ultimately it has given me the chance to prove what I’m capable of. I’m absolutely ready for it now.”
Palmer has driven for the team in the majority of this season’s Free Practice 1 sessions, and was scheduled to be back in the E23 Hybrid at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix until bad weather stopped any on track running in FP2.
Lotus are in the process of being taken over by Renault, which announced last month that it had signed a letter of intent to buy a controlling interest in the team.
Palmer said: “I have learnt a huge amount with the team this year. It has opened my eyes to the world of Formula 1. GP2 is high level, the drivers are good and the car is very solid but F1 is another level.
“The technology involved is immense and so advanced, there is a lot to get your head around. Also, working with so many engineers and the team as a whole is a completely different experience to GP2. I’m now better prepared than ever.
“To be getting a lot of mileage in the car was the most important aspect for me this year. It has also proved valuable to show everyone in the team what I can deliver behind the wheel.
“There are no drastic changes for me until the end of this season and I will carry on with my duties. However, I’ll be doing everything I can over the winter to be the fittest and healthiest I’ve ever been and give it my best shot in 2016.
“I’m now super motivated and excited. It’s just great that I’ll be carrying on with the team and be a race driver next year. I can’t wait to be on the grid in Melbourne in 2016.”
Chairman and team principal of the Lotus F1 Team Gerard Lopez has said that Palmer’s hard work has been rewarded and described him as an ‘exciting’ British driver.
He said: “We are very pleased to announce that exciting British racing talent Jolyon Palmer is promoted to a race seat with the team for next season.
“We’ve seen Jolyon’s hard work and talent this season in the way he’s approached his third driver role and he is a really popular choice for the team.
“As well as having a great future ahead of him behind the wheel, Jolyon is an intelligent and highly marketable asset to the team. He deserves this opportunity, and everyone at Enstone is excited to see what he can achieve next year.”
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