The contest between Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer at Renault was such a one-sided affair it came as no surprise to anyone that Palmer was shown the door before the year was out.
The qualifying scoreline was especially brutal. Palmer suffered 15 consecutive defeats in qualifying (he was unable to set a time in Azerbaijan due to a technical problem) and his 0.838 second average deficit to Hulkenberg was the largest of any driver.
Go ad-free for just £1 per month
And while Palmer was classified in front of Hulkenberg on three occasions, two of those require some qualification. In Malaysia Hulkenberg had gambled on an unusual strategy which backfired, forcing him to make a late pit stop, while Palmer spun twice. In Hungary he had to let Hulkenberg past (“Jo is slower than you”, he was told).
In Palmer’s defence, there were times when Hulkenberg had newer parts on his car before his team mate did. But that alone doesn’t explain a difference of this size.
Hulkenberg vs Palmer: The scores
Hulkenberg vs Palmer: Season results
Hulkenberg vs Sainz
On the face of it Carlos Sainz Jnr’s results look little better than Palmer’s. But there are a few important details to keep in mind, not least the fact that Renault’s reliability problems late in the season compromised the efforts of both drivers.
Despite having to get to grips with an unfamiliar car, Sainz was immediately much closer to Hulkenberg’s pace than Palmer had been. On average he was within three-tenths of a second of the team’s established driver in qualifying.
2017 F1 season review
- The complete F1 Fanatic 2017 Formula One season review
- 2017 F1 season in stats: The 68th season in context
- Essential reads 2017: The best articles and your favourite features
- Take the F1 Fanatic 2017 end-of-season quiz
- F1 Fanatic’s top Tweets of 2017