Jolyon Palmer believes there is very little separating himself and Renault Formula 1 teammate Kevin Magnussen, saying the gap is ordinarily less than one-tenth of a second.
Palmer and Magnussen formed an all-new line-up at Renault upon its return to F1 as a constructor in 2016, replacing the old Lotus pair of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.
Magnussen has led Renault’s charge so far in 2016, scoring its only top-10 finish in Russia and out-racing Palmer on six occasions.
However, Palmer thinks that the gap to his teammate is negligible as he looks ahead to next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
“Obviously he’s got a bit more experience than me and he’s had a few of seasons working with a top team so he’s a good yardstick,” Palmer said.
“It’s true he’s been just ahead of me in qualifying at many races but when you look at the actual lap times it’s so very close, we’re talking just a tenth or hundredths.
“Somehow it falls just so very slightly on Kev’s side. The races are often just as close and we’re often fighting for the same piece of track.
“This shows that we’re both generally getting the most out of the car for any given circumstance so this is beneficial for the team.
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to be the one who’s a tenth or so quicker in qualifying; maybe we can make that happen in Budapest.”
Palmer is looking forward to getting to grips with the Hungaroring in an F1 car, having previously raced there in GP2.
“Obviously this will be my first grand prix there so there’s lots to think about. In particular, the circuit has been resurfaced so that’s an unknown – it might help us, it might not; we won’t know until we get there!” Palmer said.
“New track surfaces are always a little bit of a venture into the unknown as you don’t know how much grip there will be, how the surface will evolve over the weekend and how the tires will perform with the surface.
“Of course, a new surface doesn’t change the layout or make a significant difference to your approach to a particular circuit but nevertheless it does give an additional focus.”
The focus of the Detroit Monster Energy Supercross round was on the mid-pack battle while Aaron Plessinger pulled away from the field, but when he crashed after hooking his foot in the dirt, the results once more looked like we’ve come to expect, with Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac sharing the podium for the fifth time in 10 rounds.
For Sexton, Plessinger’s late-race crash was a vindication of sorts. Several times already this season, Sexton has crashed while battling for the lead and the points that has cost him keeps him sporting the red plate. He lost points in Detroit for a different reason, however.
Sexton was allowed to keep the win, but was penalized seven points for jumping in a red cross section of the course. As a result, he dropped four points to Webb and two to Tomac. Sexton is now 17 points behind Webb in the championship hunt.
One week after snatching the red plate from Tomac for the first time in 2023, Webb stretched his advantage by two. With his second-place finish, Webb holds a three-point lead over Tomac, which essentially means both riders control their fate in the coming weeks. Webb continues to have a sweep of the top five this season with his sixth consecutive podium.
Coming off his worst finish of the season, Tomac rebounded to finish third. His eighth-place result last week was partially attributed to a stiff neck that hindered him in traffic and he still suffered some of those same effects in Detroit. Before Plessinger’s crash, he was destined to be the only rider in the three-man title scrum to finish off the podium in Detroit.
It is surprising what one position can do for one’s confidence.
Justin Barcia scored his fourth top-five of the season. He was part of the exciting four-man battle that dominated the middle stages of the race before Sexton and Webb gained a little separation. Finishing less than three seconds behind Tomac, he kept that rider honest for the entire race.
Coming off his first win of the season, Ken Roczen finished fifth. It was his seventh top-five of the season and it elevated him to fifth in the standings.
Hunter Lawrence tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 wins each after another dominating ride in the Detroit Supercross race and the results in the points continue to widen. With his fifth win in six rounds and a worst finish of third, Lawrence now has a 35-point advantage over Nate Thrasher with four rounds remaining. Finishes of 14th or better in the final four mains will give him his first 250 championship.
Jett will have an opportunity to retake his wins’ lead as Supercross heads west for the next two rounds in Seattle and Glendale, Arizona.
Nate Thrasher earned his third second-place finish of the season with a gap of 7.6 seconds to Lawrence. He won the overall in Arlington earlier this season, but a 15th-place finish in the opening round in Houston and 10th in Daytona hurts his championship chances.
Haiden Deegan scored his second podium and fourth top-five in six rounds of his young career. On his way to that finish, he rode aggressively against his teammate Jordon Smith in the heat race. Fans are getting a glimpse of what his on-track personality might be.
Jeremy Martin continues to be the model of consistency. He has not finished worse than sixth or better than fourth in six rounds now and that has allowed him to close to within two points of third in the 250 East championship standings.
Max Anstie entered the race weekend second in the points, but a hard crash in heavy traffic early in the main forced him to retire after two laps. Earning only one point for the round, he plummeted to fifth in the standings.
The news was worse for Smith, who was dropped out of the top nine in his heat after the altercation with Deegan and failed to advance through the LCQ. In the last chance race, he stalled his engine and had to mount a determined charge. He got only as high as seventh in that race after crashing while attempting to make a pass on fourth-place Jack Chambers.