Having had one and a half seasons to settle into Formula 1, Renault driver Jolyon Palmer no longer has any excuses not to be matching his teammate and nicking the odd points finish in a car that has proven it is capable to finish in the top ten.
It has been a tough first half for the British driver, who is yet to get off the mark in 2017. On the other side of the French manufacturer’s garage, Nico Hulkenberg has looked superb with some shock appearances in Q3 sessions that have been converted into 26-points so far. This has kept the team in a tight midfield scrap against Toro Rosso, Haas and possibly McLaren if their fourth-spec power unit brings some pace.
— Carlos YUEN (@Carddict) August 24, 2017
Palmer came close to points in Monaco, Canada and Austria with 11th place. Had he been closer to his teammate in Qualifying at these three races, he may have clinched points and might have even done enough to close the 10-point gap to Toro Rosso in 6th.
In Monaco, he couldn’t get out of Q1 and started the race 17th, whereas Hulkenberg was able to bag 12th. In Canada, Palmer pipped Vandoorne and got into Q2, but finished that session slowest with 15th. Hulkenberg went one better, creeping into Q3 and starting 10th.
In Austria, the Brit only managed 16th whilst his German teammate was 11th, half-a-tenth off of the lap that got Esteban Ocon into Q3. This highlights that Palmer’s race pace is much stronger than what he can muster over a single lap, and it has undeniably denied him some points in the first half of the season.
— OXFORDSHIRE (@DailyOXFORD) July 30, 2017
It is the area in which he needs to improve the most, so his performances on Saturday need to vastly improve and smooth running in Free Practice would aid this. Regarding his objectives in the second half, the Renault driver said:
“I’m just focused on doing nine good races now. Last year I had a much better second half of the year than first half, and clearly I need to do the same. I know I can do it, it’s just trying to dig in, really push on, and start trying to put some results together. I did it last year, I can do it this year.
I think the car is in a better place now, I’ve just got to do it on track.”
– Jolyon Palmer
— Christian García (@Christian_F1) July 28, 2017
Renault brings software and hardware updates to the Belgian Grand Prix with the ambition of eking out more performance from their power-unit, which is still some way off of Mercedes and Ferrari.
It may help Palmer secure his first points of 2017, but with Mercedes power expected to favour Spa and Monza, the French team may find it difficult to compete with the likes of Force India and Williams in the next few weeks.