8 September 2014
GP2: Palmer 'happy and proud' with recovery
DAMS looked as if they'd put Jolyon Palmer's title hopes at risk with a fuel issue on Friday, but the team bounced back in triumph on Sunday.
GP2 championship leader Jolyon Palmer said that he was happy and proud of the way he and the entire DAMS team had picked themselves up and responded to a serious blow to their title hopes on Friday at Monza.
Palmer was excluded from the results of qualifying after his car was found to have insufficient fuel to comply with the technical regulations, leaving him starting from the back of the grid and making points from the weekend look unlikely.
"We were caught out by higher fuel consumption than we expected," admitted the team's managing director François Sicard. "But we did a great job turning the situation round thanks to a risky strategy that paid off on Saturday."
That strategy required Palmer to go all-out and gain 18 positions in the 30-lap feature race so that he would finish in eighth and gain the sprint race pole on Sunday under the reverse grid system. And so that's exactly what the 23-year-old Briton did.
"Jolyon was incredible! His speed was mind-boggling as was his mastery of the situation," beamed Sicard. "I'd like to congratulate the whole team for its exceptional reaction after our error in qualifying."
"We reacted as a team after our hiccup on Friday and finishing eighth on Saturday was already like a victory for us," agreed Palmer, who then didn't put a foot wrong in the Sunday morning race and went on to convert that hard-won pole position to a race win, his first since Monaco back in May.
"I'm feeling both very happy and proud after my third win of the season, especially as I came from a long way back [on Saturday]," he said. "It was also time to score a win to send a message to our rivals.
"It's a weekend I'll remember for a long time," he told the GP2 Media Service at the post-race press conference. "The start wasn't great - they don't tend to be at the moment - but for me it was an okay one and at least it allowed me to take the lead back in turn one around the outside of [Marco] Sorensen, who raced very fairly, and from there I had clear air ahead and could look after everything, and then it was just controlling the restart after the safety car, and then keep my head down.
The sprint victory gives Palmer a 41 point lead in the championship standings going to next month's round at Sochi after his arch rival for the title Felipe Nasr could only manage a brace of sixth place finishes at Monza.
"I think for the championship [this weekend] was massive because it could easily have been damaging for the points but in the end I stretched out the lead, which I couldn't have expected at all.
"Everybody has done a really good job, and it's huge: hopefully in Sochi and Abu Dhabi we can just bring it home now," he added. "There are still two rounds to go with a bunch of points up for grabs, but we're not letting up."
Palmer was joined on the Monza podium by his team mate Stephane Richelmi, who improved one place overnight from his fourth place in the feature race.
"At last! After going through a pretty black period my top-three finish rewards the work done by the team and I'd like to thank them very much," he said after clinching his first podium since his win in the Monca sprint race, three and a half months ago.
"I could even have done a tad better," he pointed out. "A place on the first or second row was possible in qualifying and on Sunday I fluffed my restart after the safety car, and that gave [Stefano] Coletti the opportunity to pass me.
"It was a really good move and I had to avoid him a bit because he went a bit deep, but he did a really good move. Then it was really hard to follow close, but here there are little corners but it's easy to make a mistake on the brakes, but I still think it was a pretty good race.
"But I'm delighted to score these points and they've given me a great boost in view of the last two rounds," he said.
A double podium has also helped DAMS stretch out its lead over Carlin to 39 points in the team championship with just two rounds left to go in the 2014 season.
"For sure it's good for the team," agreed Richelmi. "We've both finished well, and it's good that Jo keeps the lead [in the championship], I think even increasing it, and for me it was important to make a good race too."
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