Palmer confirmed as second Lotus driver for 2016

2016 F1 season

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Jolyon Palmer will make his Formula One debut as a Lotus race driver in 2016, the team has confirmed.

Palmer has made ten practice appearances for Lotus
The 24-year-old, who won the GP2 championship last year, is to partner Pastor Maldonado, whose place at the team has already been confirmed. He will take the place of Romain Grosjean, who has already announced a move to Haas next year.

Palmer has driven for the team in ten practice sessions so far this year.

“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,” said team chairman Gerard Lopez.

“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.”

Palmer is the first GP2 champion to gain an F1 race seat since Grosjean won the junior series in 2011. His father Jonathan raced in Formula One between 1983 and 1989.

“I’ve enjoyed and learnt a lot from my year as third and reserve driver so I’m looking forward to putting this into practice as a race driver in 2016,” said Palmer. “I can’t wait for next season to get underway.”

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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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75 comments on “Palmer confirmed as second Lotus driver for 2016”

  1. Good for him.

    I fail to see how Renault is gonna run this duo next year though. A Red Bull acquisition by Renault in the making?

    1. ahahahahahaha!

  2. Okay, Palmer was good in GP2 last year, but F1 material? No way.

    I’ll just leave this here:

    1. @holmqvist It seems quite a few of you are underwhelmed by the choice of Palmer, but he was among those chosen among the top 20 drivers who deserved a place in F1 this year:

      Your alternative 2015 F1 grid revealed

      1. @keithcollantine – Ah yes, but he was 14th, which puts him behind not only 13 other people, but also the majority of the current grid, so still quite some way down the order.

      2. 2015 GP2 champion might not get a seat next year: “What a disgrace, F1 is finished, GP2 has no meaning anymore”.
        2014 GP2 champion gets a seat for next year: “What a joke, how much did he pay?”.

      3. The most realistic on the grid… Also they did say marketable….

    2. Awful news indeed. He seemed to be even slower than Maldonado during FP1s. (With Maldonado generally slower than Grosjean.)

    3. $$$ he paid for Fridays, so I suspect now he’s paying for the season.

      1. yes, but he still showed better times in many of those FP1 sessions than Maldonado did in the other Lotus on track.

    4. I think that is a very unkind comment. One of the reasons why GP2 exists is so it can be a feeder series for F1, so one would expect a GP2 champion to be given an F1 seat. Palmer won the 2014 series of GP2 by 47 points, and he had just one retirement for the entire season. These suggest he is not only very good driving a car, but also good in managing it, both of which are essential attributes to being an F1 driver.
      I am pleased he finally has got a seat. I hope he does well.

      1. @drycrust If it takes you four seasons to become a champion in a feeder series you’re not good enough for the next step.

        1. @xtwl I disagree, there is a range of skills that are essential to being an F1 driver, and just because one person takes longer to master them than another doesn’t mean the first is less capable than the second. The mastering the necessary skills is the important point, not the length of time taken.

          1. @drycrust But the skill to adapt quickly, a treat regarded high in the F1 community, is thus something he does not have. Basically you are saying it would be fine for Palmer to now just go around 4 years before his first points. That hardly makes for a good F1 driver….

          2. @xtwl If he drove around for 4 years in F1 without scoring any points then he doesn’t have the skills necessary to be an F1 driver and shouldn’t be there, and in fact wouldn’t be the GP2 Champion. The fact he won the GP2 Championship means he does have most of the necessary skills required to score points in the F1 series.

        2. Completely agree. Look at others who took four years to become champion – Maldonado and Nasr (well, nearly champion) in GP2, not really future champions are they. Those who won first time: Rosberg, Hamilton, The Hulk, Vandoorne (ok, second time, but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good hypothesis) are the real deal.

    5. @holmqvist So what about Sauber? Honestly Palmer is most certainly the best qualified Brit to get a seat in F1 since Di Resta.

      @paeschli I think you might be right, but if Lotus can survive this is their line-up.

      1. @peartree I think this is about survival in the short term. They need his money right now, and if the Renault deal finally happens, Renault has enough money to nullify the contract with either Palmer or Maldonado and can sign a real driver.

        I can’t help feeling disappointed as I though that seat was for Vergne.

  3. I dont like that. Kevin and stoffel is a better choice. Now my bet is none of Kevin or stoffel will race next year

    1. Mag and Palmer won with Dams, what’s the difference? Winning with Dams is not testament of quality. It’s rather not winning with DAMS, queue Nasr and Ericsson.

    2. Kevin who?

  4. This is bad news for F1. Decent driver, but not works Renault material, suggesting they’re not buying into the team after all…

    1. Or Renault will not be bound to driver contracts.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      23rd October 2015, 23:03

      Or its dragging on and they desperately need to bring some money in. £250k for one practice session – how much for a race seat for the remainder of the season?

    3. this was my first thought when I saw it…

    4. Perhaps it could be to aid the Renault deal, if it helps to pay off some of their debts. Renault would probably prefer to minimise the debts they would be be forced to pay if they bought Lotus. It would be, of course, a transitional period and even with a top notch lineup they wouldn’t suddenly catch up to Mercedes or Ferrari, so maybe it would be better to bring in some money in the short term, and focus on 2017.

    5. Renault has shown that they very much do not expect to be fielding the running budget for the team, instead seeking the money to do that from FOM (getting a “historical” deal too from BE) Total, Infinity, REd Bull (either payoff for 2016 and or money for the engines) instead of taking the budget out of the companies funds directly.

      It seems to also be a matter of this being a state company dealing with factory closings etc, making it hard to spend a lot of money on F1 at the same time. Also, Palmer did quite a solid job in his FP sessions, and knows the team by now. If they do not expect a huge step for next year (and why would they, the team has been without investment for a year now, will take some time to catch up), it makes perfect sense to get the money, and get a solid driver with some experience with the team.

  5. A less-crashy and improved but somewhat mediocre Pastor Maldonado and a guy who took forever to win the GP2 series and has done nothing spectacular in practice sessions.

    What an underwhelming line-up.

    1. Also what happened to this Renault thing? Surely if a big manufacturer was running a team, they wouldn’t need two mediocre drivers with a substantial amount of cash behind them?

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        23rd October 2015, 23:04

        I think Renalt are waiting to see if they can buy Red Bull. In the meantime, Lotus have bills to pay.

    2. Funny thing, both Maldonado and Palmer took 4 years to win the GP2 championship.

  6. That’s rather underwhelming.. Good for Joylon, but I think most F1 fans can name 3 to 5 drivers that would have probably been better picks. Then again, if he has paid 250.000 per practise session, I’d imagine he brings considerable budget to a team that might not be competitive until after a hefty Renault investment.

  7. I’m sure he’s good and all but between Maldonado and a rookie I can’t see Lotus moving forward much.

    Won’t lie I thought there were better options available. Than either.

    Perhaps Renault are getting cold feet.

  8. Nice guy, but…yawn.

    He’s obviously bringing money, and this confirms my suspicions that if the Renault takeover happens the car maker will be putting a minimum of its own money in. So those hoping that Enstone will return to its glory days are likely to be disappointed.

  9. Well, the Renault takeover is still not officially confirmed, so I cannot blame Lotus for playing it safe. Odds are if Renault will want a better lineup, they’ll buy Palmer (and Maldonado maybe) out.

  10. Oh well… I guess the storm will carry on…

  11. Should have picked Vergne.

    1. Agree 100% and who didn’t feel slightly vindicated when Lewis said the same at Austin?? That makes all world champs in the field in agreement!

    2. @keithcollantine I guess it’s just you and me defending Jolyon here.

      1. @peartree He’s won GP2 at least; that puts him above Stevens IMO. F1 might be a ‘grid of champions’ again in 2016!

        1. Stevens and merhi should be replaced next year. Haha think IF manor Would have kmag and vandoorne. That is a lineup

    3. @keithcollantine, so what you are saying is that you are willing to give a lousy driver a free ride if he happens to play to your prejudices?

      1. No, I have a sense of humour. And, come to think of it, a name.

        1. @keithcollantine, I’m just looking forward to the day that Maldonado criticised DRS and you’re faced with the cognitive dissonance of whether or not to support him…

          1. You do know what a sense of humour is?

    4. @keithcollantine He’s a nice chap, but he has just killed the long term F1 prospects of an extremely talented young Dane. Or rather the elitist rewards scheme, that necessitates drivers like Maldonado, Ericsson and Gutierrez, blocks drivers like Magnussen, Lynn and Vandoorne.

      1. @countrygent, that’s nonsense. Teams like McLaren, Ferrari and Williams holding on to guys who are long past it is doing significantly more damage to the prospects of young drivers than the Palmers/Maldonados of this world ever could.

        1. @klon And why is it that the teams you mention aren’t willing to let go of their aged stars? Because there is no room further down the grid to bed in their junior drivers. Vandoorne, Lynn and Ocon should all be making their F1 bow next year, but instead they will be proving the already evident in GP2 or sat aimlessly in a garage in a reserve capacity. I think Alex Lynn’s situation is the best example of this. A seat with Williams will likely be available for 2017, either through Bottas going to Ferrari or with Massa retiring, and Alex’s prospects will inevitably be compromised by his lack of experience, when all the while he could have been proving himself in a Mercedes-powered Manor.

          Yes, that doesn’t explain the Raikkonen scenario, since Bottas, Hulkenberg and Ricciardo were ready and waiting with F1 experience. But who was it that was destined for that seat before fate intervened? Jules Bianchi: a driver Ferrari paid Marussia to bed in before his seemingly inevitable rise through the ranks.

      2. @countrygent, the thing is, you then refer to three drivers who have been locked into junior driver schemes that restricted their ability to shop around for other drives even if they wanted to.

        Magnussen is only now free to pursue other options after he persuaded McLaren to break their contract with him – he was never a realistic prospect for Lotus because he was never free to compete for the seat in the first place.

        Equally, Vandoorne is still under contract with McLaren and is not free to pick his own drive – whilst that is not necessarily a bad thing now, because it meant he could be placed with the best teams in junior series, it will now start to restrict his movements given that he is depending on McLaren to find him a seat. Furthermore, Lynn was firstly part of Red Bull’s junior driver scheme before switching to Williams, where he is currently employed as their official test driver whilst having his career in GP2 bankrolled by Williams.

  12. So only Manor left for Magnussen and Vandoorne, as Haas is expected to announce Guttierez soon.

    Another possibility would be Toro Rosso. If i’m not mistaken, Red Bull haven’t officially confirmed Kvyat racing for them next year. There still is the possibility for them to promote Verstappen (or Sainz). So maybe Magnussen could make a freak-deal and join the Red Bull young driver program, if he’s desperate (which I think he is).

    1. Why would either driver leave Toro who can use Ferarri engines to join RBR who’s engines are shrouded in mystery?

  13. Maybe Jonathan has contacts that will help with sponsorship generally. Also cash on the nail.

    Anyway I wish Jolyon well, and hope he’ll surprise us. I imagine Renault are waiting to see if their 2016 engine is any good before they commit.

  14. I consider him a pay-driver, but hope Jolyon proves me wrong. Time for Alonso, Button and Raikonen to retire, make place for the next generation. I’d like to see Vandoorne and Magnussen on the 2016 grid, followed by de Vries in 2017.

  15. What a disappointment. Especially after the rumors of Magnussen. A lackluster power unit, a chassis that hasn’t been developed for almost year and a mediocre lineup. Not a particular brilliant start for the Renault F1 team.

    1. I wonder if Renault will be able to beat Sauber, Haas and Manor in 2016?

  16. Nice for him, but this makes me think Renault isn’t going to come. Palmer is okayish and deserves a chance, but not as an F1 Renault works driver. I fear the worst for Enstone.

  17. Rubbish. They had 1 world class driver and 1 Maldonado. Now they have 2 Maldonado level drivers

    I have rarely been more disappointed by a driver choice than now

  18. He’s probably not the fastest driver available, but he’s the perfect balance of financial backing and talent.

    Mid-grid teams will scour for drivers like Palmer, Perez and Nasr, who will bring a lot of sponsorship but can bring points and consistency. Better them than those with sponsorship but is a driving liability (I put Maldonado and Ericsson in this category)

    1. I don’t think you can compare Perez to the likes of Palmer. Palmer took arpund four years to win the gp2 series like Maldonado. I thhink he’s another Ericsson

      1. Comparing Ericsson to Palmer is, if anything, an insult to Ericsson – Ericsson beat Palmer when they were team mates in GP2 back in 2012, and by a reasonably sizeable margin too (3 places and 46 points better than Palmer managed that year).

        Back in GP2, Palmer managed to be beaten by Ericsson, Chilton, van der Garde, Gutierrez and Valsecchi, all drivers who have been dismissed, fairly or unfairly, as talentless pay drivers. If those drivers were considered to be under performing in F1, where does that leave Palmer then?

        1. Palmer had a lot of bad luck that year though (Didn’t start 2 races & suffered several car failures while running towards the front), When it came to outright pace he was usually comfortably faster than Ericsson & proved himself as one of the best racers in the field & certainly the best over-taker.

          Palmer’s got a lot of pace & he’s an exceptionally good racer & a brilliant over-taker, I fully expect him to put his doubters to bed next year & prove that he deserve’s a shot at F1!

          1. @RogerA, I will grant you the fact that the two DNS’s certainly didn’t help, but on the other hand Palmer also managed to be beaten by Ericsson again the following year. I will wait and see whether he can impress in F1, but to be honest I think that his junior career is rather lacklustre and doesn’t match up to the hype around him.

  19. Well, I’m not sure how long Maldonado’s money is going to last. The US is investigating PDVSA for bribery and kick-back schemes. Pastor’s money might be gone:

    1. The team already got their money for next year though SteveR (that is why they confirmed Maldonado)

  20. Wow… must have found some change down the back of the sofa.

  21. This signing will only serve to make Haas’s Gutierrez announcement more puke-worthy.

  22. Surprising. Doesn’t look like Renault are that interested in creating a strong team for the future. Renault will have the poorest driver line up on the grid next year.

  23. Worst driver line-up on the grid. Worst since Max Chilton was in F1

  24. I think people are too quick to dismiss this guy’s talent based on his junior career. Vettel’s junior career was nothing special previous to joining F1, Jolyon might perform very differently in F1 cars, given a regular berth.

  25. The way things are going it makes less and less sense for Renault to buy the Lotus team. It is clear that Renault is not going to invest any serious money anytime soon, and this is the crucial time to prepare next year’s car, which at the moment the Enstone team has clearly no money to do. Thus, if their cars are there at the beginning of 2016 at all, they are likely to be backmarkers. And now they’ve hired two money purses to drive for them. If Renault does take over the team, I wonder if they pull a Monisha and use Palmer’s advance money and then refuse him the drive.

    1. There is a reason why Grosjean left the boat. It seems there is no captain and no one to keep it afloat anymore.
      There is no reason for Renault to get Palmer. It doesn’t make any sense. So, either Renault is not interested anymore or just play the waiting game to the extreme, either this announcement has little value.

  26. The guy brings money (Oh no the evil pay drivers!!!) and Lotus love him. I don’t see the problem. Can’t judge a driver until he has driven in F1. Some drivers were eh in lower categories and did alright in F1. It’s like saying that Michael Clarke and David Warner were trash and won’t have good test careers because of their FC averages pre-debut.

    Or that Marc Gasol will bust because he didn’t have good stats in Europe before going to the NBA.

    It’s like bruh really?

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