Jolyon Palmer says he is struggling to find confidence in an unbalanced Renault RS.16 after he was comfortably out-paced by both Kevin Magnussen and FP1 stand-in Sergey Sirotkin during practice for the Russian Grand Prix.
The former GP2 Series champion has endured a tough start to life as an F1 driver, failing to score in the opening three rounds and finishing last of all during the Chinese Grand Prix as he struggled with the balance of his car.
Though he hoped the problems were specific to China, Palmer says he is still suffering from steering inconsistencies. This would contribute to him emerging eight tenths slower than Sirotkin in FP1, the Russian driving the car for the first time as part of his new role as test and reserve driver.
“[The car is] inconsistent - oversteer basically,” he said. “It's very difficult to drive consistently when you turn into a corner and you don't know what's going to happen, but also when it's snappy oversteer then when it happens then it costs you a lot of time.
“So it's not a very good problem to have and it's the same as China in the similar corners so we need to work on it. We've been changing the set-up and improving it but it's still not really as I want it and as I'd need it really.”
Worse still for Palmer, he doesn't feel the problem can be easily rectified with a 'quick fix'.
“Honestly I'm not very confident of fixing it. I think we can improve the set-up, we can try and get around it. Maybe we can find something, we still haven't had the debrief from FP2 yet but it's the same situation as I had in China and I carried it the whole weekend so it doesn't fill me with confidence when it's happened here again on Friday. So personally I feel like I'm driving OK but I'm struggling with the inconsistent balance.”