Car No.: 30
Best Finish: P6 (Singapore)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 17th
Jolyon Palmer’s second season in Formula 1 offered little improvement in terms of on-track performance compared to his first, resulting in an early dismissal from the Renault team with four races to spare.
The 2014 GP2 champion was hardly Renault’s first choice driver for this season, with his skin being saved by a lack of interest from other drivers for the seat due to concerns about the team’s performance and stability.
Renault grew in strength throughout the season and regularly featured towards the front of the midfield, but it was never really Palmer who led the charge. As teammate Nico Hulkenberg racked up the points, Palmer languished outside of the points, with nine places separating the pair at the checkered flag in Spain.
It came as little surprise when Renault announced in Singapore it had signed Carlos Sainz Jr. for 2018 to replace Palmer – even if the Briton only found out of his dismissal when he read about it online. Curiously, just two days later, he produced the drive of his F1 career by taking an excellent P6 in a chaotic race.
Renault brokered a deal with Palmer to part company after the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, allowing Sainz to join early.
While he may have scored a mere nine points throughout his 37-race stint with the team, his haul in Singapore would prove critical as Renault finished four points clear of Toro Rosso in the race for P6 in the constructors’ championship.
The door does appear shut for Palmer in F1, but he will be keen to prove his worth in another championship and forge a decent racing career his GP2 title win hinted would follow.
Season High: Taking sixth in Singapore and crucial points for Renault.
Season Low: Finishing nine places behind Hulkenberg in the same car in Spain.
There have been five different winners in the last five weeks of the NTT IndyCar season and driver that kicked off that streak in Elkhart Lake is in desperate need of a victory to help close the points gap to the leader. After being involved in the Lap 1 accident at Pocono Raceway last week, Alexander Rossi sits 35 points behind Josef Newgarden. Rossi’s two victories this season have come on road courses.
This week’s Bommarito Auto Group 500 the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is the third race on this track since IndyCar first revisited it in 2017. Newgarden took the checkers in 2017; Will Power grabbed the glory last year. Gateway also hosted races from 2001-2003.
Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday:
- For most of the drivers in the field, this will mark only their third time to race at Gateway, but two drivers were around in 2003 when IndyCar visited this track previously. Scott Dixon finished 15th in that race. He found the handle when Indy returned in 2017 to finish second and then third last year. Tony Kanaan was second in 2003; unfortunately he went the other direction and has not scored a top-10 at Gateway since.
- If one is looking for perfection on this track type, Simon Pagenaud is the only driver to sweep the top 10 on ovals in the past two years. In his last 10 starts on them, he has garnered an average finish of 5.2; his last five attempts have been sixth or better including a win in this year’s Indy 500. Pagenaud finished third at Gateway in 2017 and was fourth last year.
- The top two drivers in the points standings should also challenge for a top-five this week. Rossi was perfect alongside Pagenaud on ovals until his accident last week at Pocono with a sweep of the top 10 and seven top-fives in his last nine races. Newgarden also has nine top-10s and a worst of 13th on ovals in the past two years.
- Don’t count Dixon out of the points battle yet. While he currently sits 52 points out of first, Dixon is the hottest driver on the circuit with a current streak of five top-fives to his credit including his victory at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. His oval record is a little spottier with two runner-up finishes and two 17th-place finishes in the last four races.
- Last week’s first-lap carnage ended Rossi’s top-10 streak at seven, but one other driver was able to sneak through and extend his. Graham Rahal will vie for his ninth consecutive top-10 this week, but that success is questionable in light of his Gateway record. Rahal finished 12th in 2017 and was barely able to crack the top 10 in 10th last year.
See More: IndyCar championship contenders seeing fortunes rise and drop
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