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Palmer bows out of Renault F1 with quiet run to P12 at Suzuka

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Jolyon Palmer bowed out of Renault and – for the time being at least – Formula 1 with a quiet run to 12th place in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

After almost two tough seasons with Renault that have yielded just two points finishes, Palmer announced on Saturday after qualifying he would be leaving the team at the end of the weekend, allowing it to complete the early signing of Carlos Sainz Jr. from Toro Rosso.

Palmer started 18th at Suzuka after a grid penalty for an engine change before making his way up the order thanks to a long first stint on the soft compound tire.

Palmer was unable to get in the fight for the final point with Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, eventually crossing the line 12th to mark a point-less end to his time with Renault.

“We had a solid last race, we started from the back and with one more lap, I think we could have had 10th,” Palmer said.

“It’s been a tough season but the team and I have been through a lot, I’ve been here since the start of this new era for the team. We’ve come a long way and I’ve enjoyed it.

“I wish the team all the best in the future.”

Renault F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul added: “Today was Jolyon’s last race. It was particularly challenging as he had to start near the back due to grid penalties, but thanks to a good strategy and a solid race, he was able to move up six positions and finish 12th.

“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.”

While F1 seats are still free with Williams, Toro Rosso and Sauber for 2018, Palmer is not thought to be in contention for them, leaving him on the sidelines in F1 for the time being.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.