Palmer clinches GP2 title with victory in Russia


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Jolyon Palmer has won the GP2 championship following his victory in today’s race at Sochi Autodrom.

Palmer hit the front in the race after pole sitter Stoffel Vandoorne lost his lead when he was unable to make it into the pits when the Safety Car was deployed.

His fourth win of the season means he can no longer be caught in the championship by Felipe Nasr, the Williams reserve driver who was his closest rival for the title when the weekend began. Nasr finished today’s race in 18th after being given a drive-through penalty for gaining a position while cutting turn two on the first lap.

The son of former Formula One driver Jonathan Palmer, Jolyon began racing in GP2 in 2011. He is the third driver in the last four years to win the championship with DAMS, following Romain Grosjean and Davide Valsecchi.

GP2 champions

2005Nico Rosberg
2006Lewis Hamilton
2007Timo Glock
2008Giorgio Pantano
2009Nico Hulkenberg
2010Pastor Maldonado
2011Romain Grosjean
2012Davide Valsecchi
2013Fabio Leimer
2014Jolyon Palmer


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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    39 comments on “Palmer clinches GP2 title with victory in Russia”

    1. The man’s driven better than any of the recent champions have in their title seasons, and he doesn’t turn 24 until next January. He’s as deserving of an F1 opportunity as Vandoorne, and there’s no way Vandoorne should have to wait another year.

      If not, Palmer is going to have some team in WEC (Nissan?) or Indycar give him a sweet deal for 2015.

      1. Without a doubt Vandoorne is the most talented guy in GP2 right now. Palmer is a very decent second and deserved the title this year.

        1. Agreed.. they’ve been pretty much even in feature races, with Palmer’s cutting overtaking bringing him success in the sprints. I hope Palmer replaces Chilton, and Vandoorne/Nasr should be getting FP1s with McLaren/Williams IMO. After them, Evans, Marciello, Pic could have a titanic title battle in 2015, unless Marciello is needed to replace Bianchi at Marussia (perhaps Fuoco, Stroll etc. would then step up to GP2/F3).

        2. @rjoconnell @xtwl I don’t think GP2 champions should have an automatic right to become F1 drivers – only if they’re good enough.

          This was Palmer’s fourth year in the championship and although he’s collected the crown he’s not dominated in a manner you might expect from a driver who’s been at the level for so long. The same applies to his two predecessors, and I don’t think the fact neither of them made it into F1 screams injustice.

          I agree with those who are saying Stoffel Vandoorne has been the stand-out talent in GP2 this year. It’s his first season at this level, and with precious little testing time he’s become the driver to beat in qualifying, performed well in the races and had some bad luck – of which today was the latest example. I think McLaren have got another star on their hands.

          1. The title was never in question after Bahrain. Compare to Leimer, who had to capitalize on Coletti and Nasr’s respective collapses and could have also lost the title to Sam Bird. Or Valsecchi, whose closest rival was a driver who was only the third-best rookie in Indy Lights this year despite being 4-5 years older than Jack Harvey or Matthew Brabham.

            Palmer didn’t win six consecutive feature races the way that Maldonado did in 2010, but he’s been so consistent and so quick when it matters most – I can’t wrap my head around how this campaign could be considered anything but dominant.

            And if you are just hiring him for his funding through MSV and Comma, I think you’re getting more for your dollar than Max Chilton, who is a very bright and intelligent driver, just not quite fast enough. Or Marcus Ericsson, who has only just started really outpacing Kobayashi. Or anyone on Sauber’s payroll, consisting of a 100+ race veteran whose never stood on a podium, a bust prospect, a driver who won just one more race in GP2 in four seasons than Palmer has this year alone, and a 19-year-old Russian who projects to have maybe a third of the upside that Daniil Kvyat does.

          2. Spot on, just what exactly I wanted to say.

          3. @keithcollantine – Will Buxton argues that extra years experience on Pirelli tyres and extra years to mature is far from a bad thing when the cars at the pinnacle of motorsport are Pirelli shod. Whilst I agree with that in part, why should GP2 glory go Leimer (19th in first GP2 season), or Valsecchi (15th in first GP2 season), because they have the budgets to fund prolonged GP2 careers with top team, and not say 2012 GP3 champion Evans, or 2013 FIA F3 champion Marciello?

            For Vandoorne managing to rise above the essential nature of experience has only strengthened his stock (a Hamilton-grade talent now?), as I believe will also be the plan for Gasly in 2015 (likely with DAMS), but for Evans his career has been profoundly ruined by the need for experience in GP2. Add to that the unnecessary application of DRS next year and GP2’s slide into irrelevance will be complete.

          4. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about a GP2 champion winning in his 4th season. If we accept that a 17-year-old with one season of single seater experience (and not a title-winning one at that) is ready and good enough for F1, why shouldn’t we accept that another driver might take a bit longer to be ready for F1? It should be about what a driver is capable of achieving in F1 when he gets there. I don’t see Jolyon Palmer as the next Lewis Hamilton by any stretch of the imagination, but I think he could do a good job in a Sauber type of team.

            As for Vandoorne, you don’t have to look very hard to see what McLaren see in him. He reminds me of Mika Hakkinen in some ways.

            1. Watching today’s F3 race I’m not sure if that 17-year-old is quite ready for F1 just yet, especially as he will thus push back the GP3 or FR3.5 champions from the chance to jump up to Toro Rosso. But I pretty much agree with the rest of what you said, especially about the talent of Vandoorne, he’s a star in the making. Plus about Palmer, some sportsmen need time to mature to the complete package, even footballers, sprinters or racing drivers – as they said on Lotterer’s F1 debut, there’s no guaranteed way to F1, and Palmer’s rise and performance this year shows me that he might just be ready now (and probably better than Leimer and Valsecchi were too).

      2. He needed four years to win. No thanks, he’s the same as Valsecchi and Leimer. The only driver in gp2 who actually deserves a car is Vandoorne.

        1. I don’t recall Valsecchi or Leimer finishing their first 19 races in the points, recording six consecutive front-row starts in feature races with an average qualifying of 2.3 if you exclude that race where he had to start 26th at Monza after being excluded and still passing drivers like he had DRS at every straight to finish 8th, and Stephane Richelmi wasn’t even in his league all season using the same setups.

          4th year+DAMS isn’t a guaranteed ticket to a championship either. Ask Marcus Ericsson.

          1. @rjoconnell Marcus had almost as much bad luck as Palmer has had otherwise this season.

            1. @wsrgo Agreed, and now that they simplified the BBW on the Caterham to give him some braking feel, he’s finally showing his pace in F1. Without bad luck, it’s conceivable that he could have won GP2 last year.

            2. @fastiesty Or at least made it very close. It also must be remembered that last year’s grid, though less complete in terms of talent than this year, was more experienced overall. Think of the likes of Leimer, Bird and Calado.

    2. The problem with Palmer, as with Valsecchi and Leimer, he only flourished after a few seasons. Vandoorne has shown that he’s up to it from the get go.
      He definitely deserved the title, but to be one of the greats, you need to show you could have deserved it within your first two, and Vandoorne is the only one to show that so far.

      1. Palmer does need some time, being a bit like Chilton in that respect, but like Chilton has refined himself to be the best he can be, right now when it matters. If he has backing for two/three years in the Marussia, I would say he’s a better bet for pace/overtaking than Max, who only has the former on a good day.

        1. Not to mention, I wouldn’t begrudge Max retiring after seeing what happened to Jules, a real Clark moment there sadly.

        2. Let’s be totally honest, Max is a nice guy but he’s not a very good F1 driver. In races him and Jules both finished it’s 8-2 to Bianchi, I think (but please correct me if I’ve made a mistake!) He has shown nothing to make me thing he will improve any further and should probably be on his way now.

          1. I think I wouldn’t mind if Palmer got Chilton’s place in the Marussia.

      2. I think its been difficult the past few seasons because of the Pirelli tyres been so different to anything else. There’s been a few guys come into GP2 since 2011 who have shown a lot of speed in the lower categories but struggled for a year or 2 in GP2 just trying to figure out the Pirelli’s.

        This years the Pirelli’s have been a far lesser factor than they were 2011-2013 but even then Vandorrne struggled after the 1st race & its only been after the August break that he’s looked impressive again.

        Will Buxton has said on commentary a dozen times that many in the paddock believe its unlikely we will see a rookie GP2 champion again because of how the Pirelli’s take time to figure out & that how long it takes usually depends on what there like that year.

        In WSBR for instance the Michelin’s act like racing tyres should, There predictable & there not designed to wear like the Pirelli’s so drivers can jump into a WSBR car & immediately focus solely on understanding the car because they can push the tyres without worrying about falling off a cliff.

        1. Fikri Harish (@)
          11th October 2014, 16:14

          While I agree that it’s too much to expect a rookie to win the GP2 title, what with the Pirellis and fellow drivers with 4+ years of experience, I still think it’s possible for them to shine.
          Calado did it. Vandoorne definitely did it. And to a lesser extent, guys like Arthur Pic, Nasr, Evans, and Marciello did it too in my opinion.

          I don’t mean to belittle Palmer’s achievements though, as I still think he’s the best champion I’ve seen since Grosjean, but every name I’ve mentioned above is more deserving of an F1 seat than Palmer in my opinion.

      3. It is imho fair to assume that different people will develop differently. Some will develop fast and far, some will develop fast but peak early and then stop improving while some others take longer time to improve but continue to do so further. And some are slow to learn and never learn much :).

        There are and have been lots of lower category champions in F1 who never really made it in F1. Maybe those drivers peaked in the lower formulae and didn’t have any more room to develop in F1. Some other driver would continue to develop in F1 and will eventually reach the very narrow top peak.

        The danger in bringing a 17 year-old into F1 is that you may have a driver that learns very fast but also peaks very early. In the gran turismo academy for example there have been drivers who get on really good pace really early but also hit their limit really soon and stop improving. Some other driver who develops slower but further is one of the things the judges are looking for (just like those drivers who learn fast and keep improving) and the same thing applies to drivers who want to get from junior categories into F1.

        One of the dangers is that in junior formulae it is possible to win due to sheer talent. But winning in f1 takes more than skill. It takes dedication and hard work. Ability to develop. Everyone in F1 (well in theory at least!) are skillful so the differentiating factors are ability to develop further and the hard work.

        One could say that vergne, algersuari, scott speed, vitantonio liuzzi etc. were/are all drivers who peaked early. But when it comes to drivers like gutierrez it is hard to know whether you are seeing a driver at his peak or driver who is improving. If you look at what drivers like alonso, räikkönen or hamilton did in lower formulae you tend to see fast learning but also continuous improvement over long period of time.

    3. It’s sad for the series that 2 of the last champions didn’t gain promotion to F1 like every other champion bar Pantano. I hope Palmer gets a ride to change this late trend…

    4. I don’t think Palmer is that bad really. OK he may not be one of the greats, But he’s not that bad either.

      He’s shown good speed, good race craft & has been consistently one of the best overtakers in GP2 the past 2 years pulling off some brilliant overtakes.

      I’d at least like to see him get a run in an F1 car just to see what he could so.

    5. the part where i’m really struggling is that he just has been in the series for too long. four years is simply too much experience for a feeder series. three full seasons should be the limit, because you’re always going to have an advantage over a rookie. the whole experience thing turned gp2 into a championship you can’t rely on anymore.

      no f1 team wants to wait 4 years for a driver to show what he’s capable of. so in my view, palmer doesn’t deserve an f1 seat. don’t get me wrong, he’s a good driver and all but i simply do not rate him very highly. there are more exciting young talents out there.

      1. @rigi Palmer really was too raw in his first season, he missed F3 by going from Formula Palmer Audi straight to F2, which took one full year to learn how to drive the car, and then was repeated in GP2. If you see his GP2 career as the final 3 years, 21-23, then it looks much more normal.

        1. @fastiesty – But it was two whole years before he could be considered a frontrunner in GP2, which as @rigi says, is perhaps too long. Whilst it is close to impossible to say with any certainty, it is stands to reason that the performance level Palmer has enjoyed for the past season and half over younger drivers like Evans and Vandoorne has something to do with the advantage DAMS and Carlin has over the field and his vastly greater experience with the Pirelli tyres. But then there is Will Buxton’s argument: F1 cars are on Pirelli tyres, so why is that extra experience a bad thing? My response to that is the way in which drivers who have struggled in other categories, such as Valsecchi, Coletti and Cecotto have managed to thrive whilst known talents such as Sørensen, Marciello and Abt have struggled. It is the drivers who have shone in GP3, FR2.0 and FIA F3 that the series should be rewarding, not those with the budget to fund a prolonged GP2 career with top teams. I can’t help but feel that the introduction of DRS next year will complete GP2’s decent into irrelevance, albeit today proved it is very much needed to improve the show…LOL!

    6. Palmer is a complete driver.
      He can overtake, he has the speed and the racecraft.

      I’m impressed with him. Nasr was outshined badly.

    7. Palmer has had absolutely everything he could ever want with Daddy’s money and resources and yet it has taken is long to achieve anything. He is not future F1 material. Then again nor is Pastor Maldonado!

    8. What a great race! But very unfortunate timing of the SC for Vandoorne. He was the fastest driver out there today.
      Nevertheless Palmer deserved to win the race and also the title, because he was the most consistent this year.
      Evans drove a brilliant race too, but just couldn’t stay with Palmer till the end of the race.
      Solid performance from Marciello. Great battle with Pic. He is really one to watch out for next season, because he is fast, a great qualifier and is fighting like a lion on the race track. He just needs to be more consistent, because he just had 5 points-finishes this season.

    9. I do think Palmer deserved the championship this year. He’s not made mistakes, he’s always raced and qualified well, overtaken and defended with class but also fairly. Basically he’s driven a very matured season, everything that could be wished for from a up and coming potential F1 Driver. It has to be considered dominant. Yes perhaps in a very good car, but look at Vettel or Button previously, you work with what you have and he did exactly that, in dominant fashion.
      I do feel he deserves a place in F1 or at least consideration with certain lower down teams, especially when you consider him against some other drivers on the grid. He obviously has a bit of money from Jonathan and current sponsors, but he doesn’t have a particularly large sponsor backing, compared to some. So sadly, I don’t think we’ll be seeing him in the Formula 1 paddock to often in the future, except for perhaps in a 3rd driver role.

    10. The question posed by Palmer is whether during those years of mediocrity (2011/2012/2013) in GP2 he was becoming a better racing driver or merely a better GP2 driver. Personally I’d welcome him in F1, and it is beginning to sound like he stands a decent chance, but I would never welcome him ahead of the increasingly Hamilton-esque Stoffel Vandoorne. In he manages to pass Nasr for second in championship (which likely after what I’d rate as the finest single seater performance of 2014 earlier today) he will have finished in the top two in three consecutive years in three completely different championship; a truly staggering performance. Personally, I think the best driver line up McLaren could field in 2015 is Alonso-Vandoorne, not that Magnussen deserves to be dropped, but I would suggest the Belgian has more raw potential. Helmut Marko said after announcing Verstappen that it is vital that the remarkable talents are given an opportunity; are you listening McLaren?

      1. What is so good about being 2nd twice in 3 years? If he was Hamilton esque he should been closer to KMag, losing to Jolyon Palmer tells me he is not Hamilton esque lol.

        1. Last year he won his first race in FR3.5, was leading the championship heading into the Austrian round and was only beaten by a talented second year driver driving for the DAMS powerhouse team. This year, with minimal preseason testing and in a car that floundered in the capable hands of Calado in 2013 he has won three races, including his debut, taken three poles and is set to be beaten only by a driver with a better car and three whole seasons of Pirelli experience more than Stoffel. You are going against factual evidence if you don’t accept the brilliance of the job Vandoorne has done in recent years.

      2. Nasr seems to have gone a bit Coletti-like lately.

        1. @sharoncom – Or even a bit like 2014-spec Vettel!

    11. It is very tough to argue that Palmer, Nasr and Vandoorne do not deserve a F1 slot, all three of them.

      Regardless of how long it has taken Palmer to take the title, he done it absolutely superbly this year. Nobody can argue that any driver has been better this year based on his consistency alone. Even when he has a bad day he picked up useful points.

      Felipe Nasr has been a front-runner ever since he joined GP2. Whilst when they were team mates Palmer was the only driver to win races, Nasr amended that this year.

      Stoffel Vandoorne’s form in the last six rounds has been absolutely phenomenal. He matched up well against Magnussen who clearly has excellent speed and his performance this year has been superb for a first year.

      These guys are 23, 22 and 22 respectively. Whilst they are not 17 like Verstappen, they’re certainly not too old to make a F1 début. That probably won’t happen though. WEC/IndyCar beckons for these three it seems.

      1. @craig – I disagree with most of what you have written to be blunt. Nasr has failed to translate the form he showed in British F3 into GP2. Yes he has been consistent, yes he is an intelligent racer, but despite driving for the best two teams in the field, the speed has not really been there and he is extremely prone to ragged weekends. Vandoorne by contrast has rarely had a ragged weekend for the past three years, and dangerously close to being worthy of being labelled a Hamilton-grade talent; especially on the evidence of today. If he makes he debut his debut in Melbourne, which I think he will since there is unfortunately a Marussia seat available, he will be only one year older than Magnussen was last year, so age is not a factor. Just because Helmut Marko prefers teenagers, it doesn’t mean others do.

        Jonathan Palmer has spent 2014 compiling a sponsor package for Jolyon, so there is a chance that it could be hefty enough to nab a backmarker seat, albeit he’ll have to compete with Merhi with Mercedes ready and waiting with the cash outside Leafield’s gates. I am fully expecting to see Merhi, Vandoorne and Sainz make the step up for next year, and Palmer is another possible candidate.

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