Palmer point a boost for his F1 future prospects

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SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) Jolyon Palmer made a strong case to be retained by the Renault team in 2017 as he scored his first ever Formula One points by finishing tenth in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

The British driver was the only one to start the race on the hardest-compound tire and made the most of a one-pitstop strategy to take the last points place.

“It feels good, I’m really happy,” Palmer said. “The race was really smooth; I wish it was always so straightforward.

“The car gave me everything I needed, we handled the tires well and the team did a great job with strategy and pit stops. Finally everything came together and we got it home to P10.”

Palmer’s future at Renault is in doubt, with the team chasing an experienced driver in 2017 as it seeks to make a leap forward under the sport’s new design regulations.

While the team had reportedly chased Force India’s Sergio Perez, the Mexican was expected to announce in the coming week that he was staying put.

That increased the likelihood that Renault will retain at least one of its current driver pairing: Palmer and Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen finished in the points in the previous race in Singapore and was considered the more likely of the pair to be retained, but Renault team principal Fred Vasseur was impressed by Palmer’s performance on Sunday.

“After a disappointing qualifying yesterday he got his head down and delivered a very good race,” Vasseur said. “We ran to an aggressive strategy and Jo did everything required to make this work so a great effort from him and the team today.”