British F1 rookie Jolyon Palmer fought to the end in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, maturely keeping his head in a wild race that saw contact and controversy throughout the field.
Lining up in 19th spot on the grid at the Shanghai International Circuit, Palmer took the start on soft-compound Pirelli tyres and advanced to 16th position over a frantic opening lap as he artfully took advantage of incidents ahead.
An early safety car period prompted a flurry of pit-stops by the super-soft shod runners, elevating the Southwater racer to seventh position behind the wheel of his Renault Sport Formula One Team R.S.16.
Following three pit visits himself to switch first to super-soft rubber, then back to softs and a final stint on medium tyres, former GP2 Series Champion Palmer took the chequered flag 22nd to record his second F1 finish from as many starts.
“The start was good today, as was the first lap – we made up a lot of positions,” said Palmer. “From then on, though, it was a tough day. The balance of the car was all over the place, tyre degradation was higher than usual and the pace wasn’t as good as in previous races. We need to look at the data really, and I’m definitely happy to move onto the next race.”
Nico Rosberg dominated the race out front with the podium positions being completed by Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat.
Renault Sport racing director Fred Vasseur said: “It has been a tough race for the team and we suffered a lot with tyre degradation.
“Jolyon started on the soft tyre, and we opted not to bring him in during the safety car period. Unfortunately, he had real difficulties warming these tyres up afterwards which cost him a number of places and moving him to a four-stop strategy would have cost too much time in the pits.
“We will investigate why we lost so much tyre temperature and performance after the safety car period. We must now look forward to the next Grand Prix and continue to learn, work hard and improve.”
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