Jolyon Palmer believes that he is driving as well as at any time in his debut F1 season, and is hoping to revisit a little history in a bid to open his points account on the streets of Singapore next weekend.
While Renault team-mate Kevin Magnussen holds a place in the lower reaches of the championship table thanks to a rare top ten finish in Sochi, Palmer is optimistic that the tighter confines of the Marina Bay circuit will play more towards the RS16's strengths than the recent visits to Spa and Monza.
“Spa and Monza were not the easiest tracks for us but Singapore offers more of an opportunity I think,” the Briton confirmed, “It's a totally different challenge from Monza, a street race with close walls taking place at night, so it's a unique event on the calendar.”
Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul shares Palmer's optimism heading to Singapore, which is possibly the venue offering the regie
the greatest hope for the remainder of the year.
“We are looking forward to the final part of the year and visiting tracks that should play to our strengths a lot more,” the Frenchman noted, “In previous races - and particularly in Spa - we've shown that the performance potential is there, but sadly we haven't had the opportunity to convert into results through various incidents. Singapore's twists, turns and short bursts of acceleration should give us the platform we need to finally get onto form.”
Palmer will carry a good vibe to the first of the end-of-season 'flyaways', having always seemed to go well when GP2 visited Marina Bay. After the annoyance of tangling with former junior series rival Felipe Nasr last time out in Italy, the 2014 GP2 champion is hoping for a change of luck as a circuit he clearly enjoys.
“I've raced and won there in the GP2 Series and it was one of my best wins,” Palmer admitted, “In fact, I raced there two years running and both
years were very good. It's definitely a better opportunity for a stronger result [in F1], and I'm really looking forward to it.
“The summer break allowed me to recharge my batteries completely and now I'm fully in the zone. I'm driving better than ever and I'm exceptionally keen to have a strong result after the frustration of Monza.”
Racing at night not only necessitates a change of timetable, however, but also requires the drivers to get to grips with different conditions to what they are used to.
“It's not a conventional weekend!” Palmer laughs, “We see the circuit change a lot over the weekend as the surface rubbers in, then the climatic conditions are reasonably different between FP1 and FP2, and then FP3 and qualifying, so getting a good handle on the balance of the car gives us plenty of work as, generally, it's cooler later in the night.
“It's a cool feeling driving at night though, as you can see the circuit very clearly from the lights, but your vision is channelled as the background is in darkness. You need your wits about you and stringing a perfect lap together is a real challenge! [Overtaking is] certainly is a challenge...”