Jolyon Palmer has described his final race weekend for Renault as ‘strange’ but accepts the decision to be dropped early by the French manufacturer and replaced by Carlos Sainz.

The British driver announced the shock news he would contest his last Formula 1 race for Renault this weekend in Japan with Sainz making an early switch from Toro Rosso from the United States GP onwards, despite the Spanish driver being confirmed as Palmer’s replacement for 2018.

Palmer started the race in Suzuka 18th due to engine grid penalties but battled back to 12th place and felt a points finish would have been on had it not been for a late virtual safety car period which stalled his charge on Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.

After admitting it is likely to be his final F1 race, Palmer paid his respects to Renault and despite wanting to see out the season he accepts the driver switch and wished Sainz luck for the future.

“It has been a bit of a strange weekend knowing that this was going to be the last one with the team after three years together,” Palmer said. “It is a shame not to be going to Austin with them.

“It was a strange one as I knew I was going to get an engine penalty coming here so starting from 18th on the grid and finishing 12th is about as good as we could have got. Without the virtual safety car at the end and with one more lap points could have been on as I was right on Massa’s arse at the end. Still happy to see the flag.

“After this race there is a couple of weeks gap and I makes sense for this time to be the time I made my way out. It is a shame not to finish the season but I respect the decision and I wish the team and Carlos the best for the future as we go our separate ways and I work on something for the future.

“When I am sat on the plane back home it will probably sink in but certainly I won’t be back for Renault and maybe not in Formula 1 again.”

Palmer says the stress of constantly having his place at Renault questioned this year has added to his frustrations but is confident of moving on from the experience.

“There isn’t relief but I would have liked to see out the season to finish what I started,” he said. “The stress levels have been pretty huge this year. It has been a tough season for many reasons and each weekend turning up with question marks and pressure coming on more and more with the season not unfolding like we hoped but I would have happily seen out the season. I think the team is in a good place even if we haven’t shown it in the last couple of weekends.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport F1 managing director, has credited Palmer for his ‘professionalism and loyalty’ and has returned the fond wishes for his future.

“Today was Jolyon’s last race. It was particularly challenging as he had to start near the back due to grid penalties,” Abiteboul said. “His performance is another demonstration of his professionalism and his loyalty, and a very good way to bid farewell to the Renault family. We sincerely wish him the best.”



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