Palmer’s Formula One career with Renault at a crossroads of uncertainty

Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16.'United States Grand Prix, Saturday 22nd October 2016. Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, USA.
Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16.'United States Grand Prix, Saturday 22nd October 2016. Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, USA.

Jolyon Palmer’s days with Renault appear to be numbered after a dramatic and telling week for the Formula One driver.

The well-documented uncertain future of the Southwater racer at his current team seems to be coming to a head as the season races towards its climax.

Renault team principal Fred Vasseur has spoken of the team’s growing interest in other drivers and Palmer himself has also hit out at his current employers.

The anticipated acquisition of Nico Hulkenberg joining Renault Sport next season was confirmed last week as he agreed a release from his contract with Force India.

The 29-year-old German has been chosen to lead Renault’s team, leaving the second seat up for grabs.

At first, it seemed current drivers Kevin Magnussen and Palmer would fight it out for the second place, but Manor’s Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein and Williams driver Valtteri Bottas are also in the frame.

Vasseur has spoken of his admiration for Bottas and confirmed that the signature of Hulkenberg has brought them time to announce their second driver for next season.

The team principal has also been quoted as saying they are talking to many drivers and that a deal for Magnussen signing a new contract was still ‘millimetres’ away.

Palmer has improved consistently throughout the year, culminating in his maiden world championship point in Malaysia at the start of the month.

Magnussen meanwhile sits on seven points for the campaign with Renault a lowly ninth in the constructors standings.

Palmer was handed his full-time race seat a year ago, but his dreams of following in his ex-F1 driving father, Jonathan’s footsteps hang in the balance.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s American Grand Prix, the 25-year-old has said that Renualt have not given him or Magnussen enough credit this season.

He also revealed that while he wants to stay with Renault, the current situation is meaning he is looking elsewhere at ‘other options.’

In Sunday’s race Magnussen made a late charge to finish just shy of the points in 11th - before a post-race penalty saw him drop down to 12th.

Palmer finished in 13th using a two-stop strategy, but the frustrated Briton tweeted an apology for his team-radio rant during the race.

He said: “Sorry you had to put up with my moaning on the radio, I just felt there was a much better result possible.”

Post race Palmer had commented: “I had a slow start and unfortunately lost a few places that allowed Kevin to pass me, which then meant I was on his gearbox for a good two-thirds of the race.

“We were really struggling to follow other cars and although I was quicker, I couldn’t get close enough to pass which was so frustrating.

“I could have tried to lunge but that’s not a clever thing to do between team-mates. In the end, I overheated my tyres trying to overtake and fell back a little bit.”

Just three Grand Prixs remain in the 2016 calendar, starting with the Mexico City race this weekend.

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