Romain Grosjean. Jolyon Palmer, Melbourne, 2017

Grosjean: F1 return not impossible for Palmer

2017 F1 season

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Romain Grosjean says his career shows Jolyon Palmer could return to F1 eventually despite his mid-season departure from Renault.

Palmer revealed following qualifying at Suzuka that he had decided to step down from Renault before the end of the season. The team had already announced Carlos Sainz Jnr has his replacement for next season and the Toro Rosso driver will now make an early move to the team this year.

Grosjean made his F1 debut with Renault in 2009 as a replacement for Nelson Piquet Jnr. However he was not retained by the team for 2010 and spent two years out of Formula One before coming back.

“At the end of 2009 I wasn’t any more in Formula One,” said Grosjean in an interview with Ziggosport. “I did some GT World Championship, I did some Auto GP, GP2, I tested Pirelli tyres and I came back to Formula One. So that was the first part of my career.”

“I’ve been through a tough time when I wasn’t in Formula One any more. I believed in my dream and I made it by coming back in GP2 and so on. We all have different careers and we’re all in different places but it’s not impossible to come back.”

However Grosjean admitted it would be “tough” for Palmer to make his way back into F1 with so few seats available.

“There is only 20 seats in the world,” he said. “It’s a tough one. Every seat is taken, we all have long careers so it just makes it harder to come in.”

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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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  • 17 comments on “Grosjean: F1 return not impossible for Palmer”

    1. Nothing is impossible, but lets compare the two situations:

      Grosjean entered mid season at the age of 23 (considered fairly young even 8 years ago), partnered with Fernando Alonso in a specification of cars pretty difficult to get to grips with (see Fisichella and Badoer in the Ferrari for details). He performed fairly poorly, but went away having not really been able to give a proper representation of himself.

      Palmer leaves the sport for now at the age of 26 (27 by Round 1 next year), which is now getting on a bit for unproven F1 drivers. He’s had two seasons partnering Magnussen and Hulkenberg – being evidently worse than the latter and a mile off the former. He’s no longer a rookie and after 35 starts looks, if anything, worse than when he began.

      I think it’s curtains for him…

      1. @ben-n
        Hahaha, well said! There are way better drivers out there.

      2. True. Palmer is pretty much done. Theres a lot of talent like LeClerc , Giovinazzi, and many more set to make their debut. Sometimes being quick is not enough. With Hulkenberg as his team-mate, the gap was massive. Therefore, does he really deserve a drive? Maybe it was a little ruthless to have him not complete the season. But mentally his focus had spiralled off .. Maybe LMP2 or LMP1 might suit him, and his driving style. But in F1 he has not been able to display any exceptional skills, nothing that the others don’t have on their CV.

    2. I got the feeling that Palmer never actually enjoyed being an F1 driver. In interviews he seemed passionless, which transferred into his driving style.

    3. Maybe if they have two seaters next year in F1… but a wild guess – he will never return…never

    4. Yes, it is possible for Palmer to return. Maybe Honda’s favoured driver won’t get the necessary Superlicence points, and Palmer might just be the person who jump in and help. Or maybe Williams will decide they need a 27 year old that can at least drive a car around the track without attracting attention, especially if Blue Flags happen to be waved.
      Currently there are still seats available at McLaren, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Sauber, and Williams.
      If he doesn’t pick up something before the New Year then I think it is fundamental for him to have something new to present besides his current CV when he emails in an application to one of the Team Principals. Like it or not it is very easy for a Team Principal to look at his Wikipedia entry and, rightly or wrongly, make assumptions from that. For Palmer he needs to show people are making the wrong assumptions, he needs to show that he has that winning edge that will a Team Principal will happily pay millions of dollars for. Maybe he can compete in some of the F1 feeder series’, hopefully with podium results.
      As Grosjean says, there is other work outside of racing for a person with his experience, so maybe he can get a few small contracts that will keep his name in the media spotlight.

      1. Yes, Toro Rosso is about to give Brendon Hartley a try, but Jolyon knows the engine and has the experience in a F1 car.
        Maybe the Toro Rosso suits him better than the Renault ever did?

        It would be weird though.

        1. Yes, I heard that on the radio about lunch time today. I was delighted to hear this.

      2. it is very easy for a Team Principal to look at his Wikipedia entry and, rightly or wrongly, make assumptions from that

        @drycrust I’m not sure about this. I think all of the teams employ well-trained analysts that study every detail of all potential drivers, those who have competed both in and out of F1, not just based on their results, but also
        • Their driving style (to a very fine detail)
        • Development, feedback, and setup abilities
        • Performance in individual races and under many specific scenarios (there are lots of scenarios)
        • How factors affect performance with different cars, tyres, conditions, etc.
        • How well and quickly they can adapt themselves to many different factors and scenarios
        • How results may have been affected beyond a driver’s control
        • Whether they have previously had equipment equal to their team mate
        • Experience in every aspect
        • What they are like to work with off the track
        • Whether they fit into the team culture
        I could go on for a long time. Then that’s before they even get to the contractual part, which is normally full of different clauses for all sorts of things, and of course, pay drivers are even more complicated.

        This is why teams often sign drivers in a way that we fans don’t understand. As you said, they spend millions of dollars on drivers, I doubt any F1 team principal makes decisions purely based on the results tables. And sure, they wouldn’t go to this much effort to analyse a driver who is obviously not suitable, but I doubt a few months experience elsewhere will change this

    5. When Grosjean entered F1 he had sufficient talent but lacked mental preparedness.

      When Palmer entered F1 he had mental preparedness but lacked sufficient talent.

      So I don’t really see much comparison. A driver can certainly improve his mental position and become a better, more attractive driver by doing so – as Grosjean did. But he can’t magically become more talented, which is what Palmer would need.

      1. Exactly. Grosjean had speed but was erratic — that can be fixed by adding control. Palmer is just slow and unlucky — neither of those can be fixed.

    6. There is no displacement for Speed. In a 26 car grid, probably he would find space, as it is F1 is very competitive.

      Up next are Sauber drivers, Kvyat, Magnussen, Kimi (yeah you read me right) and Massa who we can assume is silently already out of F1?

      There is no room for under performing drivers in F1 right now. And level that is considered under performing is anything bellow exceptional. Look at Seinz, he is not exactly Max Verstappen so boom no place in top team.

      Then there are rookies who come in and perform well, on outskirts we have Kubica, who used to be an exceptional driver, but now struggles to reenter F1.

      I wonder if Nico Rosberg will return, he seems to be handy around the paddock.

      1. Magnussen is on contract for 2018 with Haas.
        Come back in end of 2018 to read your post here, and you will see that having Magnussen in the above equation is wrong.
        He has a dedicated, natural racing gift that only few on the grid have. Teams will want that.

      2. Sainz and Verstappen were pretty much on a par when they were team mates at TorroRosso. The reason he hasn’t gone to a top team is that he is contracted to Redbull and Marko has made it clear he is not leaving until his current contract expires. The only reason he is going to Renault (on loan from Redbull) is to pave the way for the various Renault/Honda engine movements.

        1. Come again?

          In 2015 Verstappen scored 49 points compared to 18 for Sainz, had better overall raceresults with or withour counting DNFs and
          he got 4th as best result vs 7th for Sainz (oh and he also outqualified Sainz, but since everytime someone brings up VES’s qualifying when comparing to RIC it is always dismissed because ‘the points are divided on sunday’ I assume that doesnt count here either ;) ).

          ‘Pretty much on par’ indeed…

    7. “Palmer revealed following qualifying at Suzuka that he had decided to step down from Renault before the end of the season.” Did he really say that?

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