25 March 2016
F1 Bahrain GP: 'Not too long' before Palmer expects regular points
Jolyon Palmer narrowly missed out on opening his F1 career with a points-paying finish in Australia, but is confident that the Renault team will soon be be competing for the top ten.
He may have left Melbourne empty-handed, but Jolyon Palmer created a positive impression on his F1 race debut and expects to be making a similar mark on the championship standings before too long.
The Briton and new team-mate Kevin Magnussen both defied Renault's late takeover of the former Lotus team to show well in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix - where they gridded 14th and 15th - and, while the Dane was thwarted by a lap one puncture, Palmer was able to race hard against both Toro Rossos before fading to eleventh at the chequered flag.
The pair now head to Bahrain for round two of the season and, with prior experience of the Sakhir circuit, Palmer is confident he can help Renault take another step towards becoming a regular feature in the top ten.
The former GP2 Series champion - who spent last season as reserve at Lotus - admits that it was important to get his first grand prix out of the way and is looking forward to focusing on the rest of the season, especially as the next stop is a venue where he has tasted success in the past.
"All in all, [Australia] was a strong start, especially considering the takeover was completed just before Christmas," he noted, "I will be more relaxed now I have one race under my belt, particularly as I finished all 58 laps. I feel much more comfortable after pre-season testing and am looking forward to going to a track I know and have won at before.
"[Bahrain] is a track I have been successful on in the past - I won the last race I did there, and I also had a podium. Of course, I also drove in [F1] practice last year, and the track is okay. There are a lot of straights so plenty of overtaking opportunities, so we will find out more about the car in this trim."
Despite being a little frustrated with his result in Melbourne, Palmer is confident that Renault will continue to improve throughout the 2016 season, beginning in Bahrain.
"I was happy with the race," he claimed, "I had a good start and was wheel-to-wheel for quite a long time, scrapping hard – it was great fun. I wanted to get to the finish, and you always dream of stealing a point, but I just missed it with P11, which is really frustrating!
"But we can definitely build on this. In Australia, we didn't have any more pace in the car, but it was an encouraging start. We have upgrades coming all the time and it should not be too long before we can fight for points consistently."
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