Palmer wins GP2 sprint race on tough day for US drivers

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Jolyon Palmer has won the second race of the 2014 GP2 season in the sprint race at the Bahrain International Circuit today, and seized the championship lead on what was a difficult day for American drivers Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi.

The British driver made an excellent start from sixth to trail Simon Trummer off the line, whilst pole-sitter Felipe Nasr made a poor getaway and fell down the order. Feature race winner Stoffel Vandoorne suffered a puncture when trying to overtake Daniel de Jong, and Alexander Rossi had a similar problem, effectively ending his race before it had really started.

Palmer took the lead of the race from Trummer at the beginning of lap two, and managed to keep the Austrian behind him for the rest of the race despite coming under considerable pressure. Colombia’s Julian Leal also continued his good form from yesterday to tail the leaders right the way to the flag, and claim a second podium finish of the weekend. In second place, the result marked Trummer’s first podium finish, and he was clearly elated on the podium after the race.

Further back, a number of tight battles took place as the rest of the field battled for the final points paying positions. Ferrari junior Raffaele Marciello tussled with Daniel Abt, Nathanael Berthon, Johnny Cecotto Jr. and Jon Lancaster for position, but eventually dropped down the order due to a problem with his car.

American driver Conor Daly appeared to be well-placed to pick up the last few points, but after hitting a piece of bodywork from Rene Binder’s car, he was forced to return to the pits and retire from the race. After suffering a puncture, compatriot Alexander Rossi failed to make up any ground and finished in 25th, albeit with the fastest lap of the race to claim two points.

GP2 now takes a break until the beginning of the European season in Spain (May 9-11), and Palmer will be keen on continuing his scintillating start to the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya next time out.

F1 2017 driver review: Nico Hulkenberg

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Nico Hulkenberg

Team: Renault
Car No.: 27
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Abu Dhabi)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 43
Championship Position: 10th

Expectations were hard to peg for Renault heading into its second full season back in F1 with a factory team, but Nico Hulkenberg was surely expected to be the man spearheading its charge.

With teammate Jolyon Palmer severely underperforming, Hulkenberg did exactly that, bringing home all but 14 of the team’s points in the final standings. However, consistency was never something he truly found.

Many of Renault’s issues were down to reliability issues, sidelining Hulkenberg for six races – four coming in a five-race stint from Singapore to Mexico – yet he only scored points in consecutive races on three occasions.

When Hulkenberg and Renault were on form, they proved to be a potent combination, often topping the midfield fight and even looking faster than Force India come the end of the season. His run to sixth at the final race in Abu Dhabi was crucial for the constructors’ championship as Renault jumped Toro Rosso, securing an extra slice of prize money in the process.

But for a driver who was so often tipped as being a future star in F1, Hulkenberg still has a lot to prove. Renault is set to offer a good platform for the German moving forward with factory support, yet if he cannot beat new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. through 2018, concerns will surely be raised.

Season High: Charging to sixth in Abu Dhabi despite a penalty.

Season Low: A tough run to 16th in Malaysia.