Jolyon Palmer about his preparation for the new Formula 1 season and expectations for 2017.
Tell us about the 2017-specification Jolyon Palmer…
Well from the outside I look pretty similar; I’m not any wider and I don’t have more downforce. I learnt a huge amount in 2016. This time last year I’d never contested a Grand Prix, I didn’t know what to expect and everything was new on so many levels. Twelve months on, I have 20 Grands Prix under my belt, which means a decent amount of experience, I know the team really well and Renault as a manufacturer so I start my year far ahead of where I began in 2016. I know what to expect from the season ahead and I’m confident I can hit the ground running. I should be better in every way.
What are your thoughts on the season ahead?
It’s super exciting. There are so many unknowns that I think it’s exciting for all drivers across the grid, but for us with our first proper designed and conceived race car it’s going to be very interesting. I think this generation of car will be fun to drive. They appear very different and I’m looking forward to hearing the reactions of the fans. The R.S.17 looks really racy and I can’t wait to taste it on track for the first time.
What have you done in preparation for the demands of the new cars?
I had to put on some muscle from where I was last year, and this means a little bit more weight and a little more focus on upper body strength, whereas last year was all about leaning down as much as I could. This means I have been working a lot on my neck and core, and general overall strengthening.
Have you enjoyed having to eat more?
It’s been bliss! After years of watching my weight so closely I finally get to put a little bit on for racing so the eating aspect has been great as I can actually up the calories! Obviously, I’m still a very careful eater – it’s in my DNA now – but you do need a bit more fuel if you’re going to put on some muscle.
What are your expectations for when you do get behind the wheel of the R.S.17?
Everything from the simulations has been positive. It’s much quicker – which is always fun – and then the new regs mean the pecking order can be mixed up as well; there’s a lot to look forward to. After a tough season in 2016 I think there’s a strong chance for us to make a good step forward.
What in particular appeals about the new regulations?
I’m really excited by the new aero and the extra downforce we’ll get. The cars could look pretty distinct – certainly initially, when we see what every team has created and before everyone gets the chance to look at everyone else’s cars. There’s a lot more freedom for the designers so it’ll be great to see what they’ve done. Downforce is such a major factor for a fast lap time so it’s going to make a big difference. The wider tyres are going to be interesting too.
What have you seen in the development of Enstone over the past 12 months?
When Renault took over, the factory was a pretty quiet place, but now it’s full of activity, both inside and out. There a huge buzz around the factory and now the infrastructure is getting up to speed with where it needs to be to challenge for championships in the future and that’s great to see. You really notice how many more people there are – even if that means I struggle to get a parking space when I come to the factory! It’s definitely an exciting time to be in the team.
How have you adapted to being part of Renault?
I love being part of a large multinational manufacturer. We have everything in place to be fighting for championships in the future and when you meet the different markets in different countries you realise that the hunger for this is throughout the organisation. It’s an honour to be part of this. We are just a small aspect of Renault as a whole but we have the resources behind us to be fighting for the championship and having such a big global impact with what we do. I’m obviously part of the Formula 1 team, but I also feel like I’m part of a very big worldwide family.
— Jolyon Palmer (@JolyonPalmer) 21 February 2017