2014 GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer will take part in practice for the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time as part of his reserve driver duties for Lotus F1 Team.
Palmer joined Lotus at the beginning of the year, getting his first taste of on-track action in the E23 Hybrid during pre-season testing in Barcelona.
However, the Briton will now take part in a F1 grand prix weekend session for the first time in China, with Lotus confirming today that he would be replacing either Pastor Maldonado or Romain Grosjean for FP1.
“I am really pleased that I will be back in the car for practice in China,” Palmer said. “It will be my first Formula 1 session on a grand prix weekend and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’ve never raced on the Shanghai circuit before so there is plenty of homework to do but I will make sure that I’m fully prepared for it. The focus is now on Malaysia and helping the team achieve a good result in the grand prix on Sunday.”
Lotus CEO Matthew Carter was pleased to confirm Palmer’s participation in practice, believing that the technical insight and feedback that he can offer will be valuable to the team.
“We are looking forward to having Jolyon in the E23 Hybrid for the first practice session in China,” Carter said. “He did a great job at the pre-season test in Barcelona, offering good technical feedback and showing strong pace throughout the day.
“Driving in FP1 in Shanghai will help both his progress as a driver and the team’s development programme with the car and we are sure he will put in an impressive performance.”
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.