It has been announced this morning that the 2014 GP2 Champion Jolyon Palmer has been confirmed as Lotus’s second driver for the 2016 Formula 1 season, replacing Romain Grosjean alongside Pastor Maldonado.
After serving as Lotus’s reserve driver for this year, 2014 GP2 champion Palmer takes the seat left vacant by Grosjean’s move to F1 newcomer Haas.
Lotus is poised to become the Renault works team for next year once the French manufacturer’s acquisition of a majority shareholding is completed.
In an interview with the media this morning Palmer, who has driven in the majority of the first practice sessions this season, said the following:-
‘I’m obviously delighted I’ll be racing in Formula 1 next year. Lotus F1 Team gave me a tremendous opportunity this season and I thank them for assisting my development to a level where they have put their trust in me for a crucial season in their evolution.
‘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. I can’t wait for next season to get under way.’
As Palmer says himself, he is clearly delighted to have secured the race seat with Lotus next season and using the experience he has gained with the team this season to better effect as a driver. For Lotus to promote Palmer shows just how much they believe in him as a driver and have rewarded all of his hard work and loyalty to the team as well by giving him this chance.
Palmer follows his father Jonathan’s footsteps into a F1 race seat, with the latter making 83 starts from 1983-89 for teams including Williams and Tyrrell.
His appointment means there will be at least three British drivers on the 2016 F1 grid, as he joins Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and McLaren’s Jenson Button.
In his own interview with the media this morning; Lotus chairman and team principal Gerard Lopez said the following on signing Palmer for next season as follows:-
‘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. 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.’
It is clear from what Lopez has stated in his interview this morning that he is happy to have signed and promoted Palmer as a race driver with the Lotus team for 2016 as a result of his hard work throughout the season. They believe that Palmer is the right man for the job and has the respect of the team as well which can only be a good thing.
This just goes to show for me that if you do win GP2 and become champion and did the route that Palmer did in order to gain experience and a foot in the door in F1 with a test role and make it work for you; you will reap the rewards and this must be a good sign for upcoming driver Stoffel Vandoorne who is looking to get into F1 next season.
But overall, I am happy that Palmer has been promoted and that the arrangement has been finalised, both are happy with it and they can now focus on building up a relationship together ready for the 2016 season where Palmer at the earliest opportunity will want to show why he was signed in the first place.