Jolyon Palmer has told The Checkered Flag that claiming his maiden win in the GP2 Series last weekend in Monaco was “even more special” because of the history surrounding the famous street circuit.
The 21-year-old from Southwater in West Sussex had been at the sharp end of the GP2 field throughout the Monaco weekend, featuring in the fight for pole position on Thursday before finishing sixth in Friday's feature race.
Starting third on the grid for the sprint race on Saturday afternoon, Palmer got a flying start to move into the lead turning into Ste Devote for the first time. He quickly built up a comfortable margin and then stayed cool under pressure late on to claim victory.
“It felt unbelievable,” said Palmer.
“We have been quick throughout the start to the season, and at Monaco I felt confident all weekend and the car was good. To win at Monaco is amazing. It is a very surreal place to drive around with all the history around the track and to win there was even more special.”
The successful Monaco weekend came off the back of a difficult start to the season for Palmer, with a recurring electrical problem in his iSport International-run car blighting the first four race weekend and restricting him to just a couple of top ten finishes.
“It was definitely sweeter after the start to the season we’ve had,” he said about the Monaco win. “After so much bad luck, with a recurring electrical problem that has seriously hampered the start to the season it was nice to get a clean weekend when everything went to plan.
“After the pace we have shown so far it was nice to finally get the points and results we deserve because ifs buts and maybes do nothing in motorsport, so it is nice to have a solid result to back up that pace.
“I am very happy for the team as well because they have been working so hard to fix the problems but there was nothing they could do about it. In the end they were left with replacing the entire car as we couldn’t find the problem so this result is just reward for them.”
With the reliability issues seemingly in the past and his pace proven, Palmer is now looking to be scoring regularly and adding some more trophies.
“I hope to build on the Monaco result and score solidly now for the rest of the season. If I can be consistent and keep there or thereabouts then I’m sure more good results will come and this is the aim.”
Palmer's first GP2 win came the day after Johnny Cecotto Jr had achieved the same, 30 years after their fathers Jonathan and Johnny Sr were racing each other in Formula Two. Jolyon put their Monaco successes down to experience around the Principality's streets.
“It is a strange coincidence that both of us scored our first wins on the same weekend! I think the biggest influence around Monaco is experience. Going to Monaco for the first time is unbelievably daunting, especially in such a competitive championship. Coming back again you have so much more knowledge of the track and you can build up to speed a lot quicker so it is normally natural to do better, especially when practice time is as limited as in GP2. Cecotto is also very experienced in GP2 and we both are with experienced and successful teams in GP2, iSport and Addax and their experience is vital to having a good base line set up.”
On the subject of F2, we asked the 2010 runner-up whether there are any drivers currently racing in the series that have impressed him.
“I have always followed F2 since I graduated in 2010,” he said. “This year I have been hugely impressed by Luciano Bacheta. His start to the season has been awesome and I think he will be difficult to catch for the rest of the year.
“[Christopher] Zanella and [Mihai] Marinescu are also very strong drivers who I expect to fight for more wins and maybe the championship as the year progresses. Also I have been impressed with [Matheo] Tuscher as he is so young and inexperienced compared to the people he is fighting with, he is doing an incredible job.”
Naturally, Palmer is working towards progressing onto Formula 1, although he wouldn't be drawn on how close that dream is to becoming reality.
“I have had some F1 personnel congratulate me on the results which is nice but I can’t say much more in terms of discussions. I’m just focussing on doing a good job this year in GP2 at the moment and we will have to see where we are at the end of the season.”
Palmer finally joined Twitter this week, having been one of the only GP2 drivers absent from the social network.
“GP2 and iSport can be very persuasive!” he declared, after the series, his team and fans had campaigned to see him join in using the hashtag #JolyonGetOnTwitter. Having given in, he can be followed at @JolyonPalmer.