Jolyon Palmer enjoyed a strong Formula 1 debut in Australia on Sunday as he came within one position of scoring points in Renault’s comeback race.
Palmer stepped up to a full-time race seat with Renault for 2016 after spending a year in reserve at Lotus, whom the French manufacturer took over ahead of the new season.
The Briton qualified 13th on Saturday and enjoyed an impressive run to P11 in the race on Sunday, battling hard with the likes of Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.
Palmer praised the team for its efforts after the grand prix, and said that he enjoyed going wheel-to-wheel out on track again in his first race since he won the GP2 title back in 2014.
“I think the team has done an incredible job this weekend to qualify in Q2 and then finishing the race in eleventh and twelfth; it’s the maximum we could expect to achieve,” Palmer said.
“It’s a good start, we were so close to scoring points, and we can move forward from here. The race itself was busy but good fun.
“I absolutely loved being wheel to wheel again after a year out of racing. It was great to be back in the fray and it all went pretty smoothly for me. Happy days.”
Palmer beat teammate Kevin Magnussen in the race, with the Dane finishing 12th after suffering an early puncture, but he found plenty to be positive about.
“We have a really good car; the pace is strong, as is the baseline set-up. It’s something we can continue to work from and evolve to gain more performance,” Magnussen said.
“Today was pretty tough at the start as I was really gutted about the puncture. I don’t think I had any contact so it was really unfortunate.
“You never want to see a red flag incident, and it’s a positive statement that Fernando could walk away from that dramatic crash, but the restart did benefit us.
“Our pace after the restart was very promising so I’m excited for the next races.”