Renault rookie Jolyon Palmer says his year on the sidelines will make it “even sweeter to be back racing again” this weekend in Australia.
The 2014 GP2 Champion spent last year as Lotus' test and reserve pilot, but having now been promoted to the race line-up in the re-branded Renault Sport Formula One team, he can't wait to take in his first grand prix at Melbourne's Albert Park.
“Well, racing!” he replied when asked about the best thing about now becoming a proper Formula One driver. “It was a bit frustrating last year having a year on the sidelines after GP2, but I learned a lot and it makes it even sweeter to be here racing again.
“I was out here last year seeing what Melbourne's all about, did the track walk, was ready to go, but of course as a reserve driver you rarely get the chance.
“So looking forward to getting behind the wheel for at least an FP2 and an FP3 as well this time.”
With the Renault takeover only confirmed just before Christmas, however, Palmer is cautious about making any predictions for the year ahead.
“It's difficult to say at this moment [what we can expect]. Taking over from Lotus there were a lot of difficulties over the winter, everything was a little bit late. The expectations are pretty low and this year is just about building a foundation,” he explained.
“So I think we need to build a solid base but the team has a lot of potential to move forward in the next few years.”
Pressed on if points are achievable for Renault in 2016, he added: “I think for us it's definitely a goal for us to be in the points at some point in the season.
“I think that if we can start off with a solid base this weekend, as I said, then I think we've got good potential to improve over the course of the season and so definitely, we hope to be in the points.”