Palmer Maintains GP2 Championship Lead With Ninth Top-Three Finish
Jolyon Palmer continues to hold a strong lead in the GP2 Series standings after securing his ninth podium of the season in the Sprint Race at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium on Sunday.
From third on the grid, Palmer held position on the run to La Source hairpin and then moved into second with a move around the outside of Daniel Abt at Les Combes corner. On the next lap Johnny Cecotto was able to move past Palmer, returning him to third.
Jolyon kept the leading duo of Felipe Nasr and Cecotto within his sights for much of the race, the gap constantly under three seconds, but by the latter stages Jolyon knew a handling imbalance with his car meant he would have to accept third place, holding off the chasing Mitch Evans.
Palmer secured a sixth place finish in Saturday‚Äôs Feature Race. The 23-year-old started from second on the grid, his seventh front row starting position of the year from the eight rounds so far - but his side of the grid was still very wet from the rain that had affected the earlier F1 qualifying session, while the pole side was much drier. The consequence of this disadvantage was wheelspin on getaway, meaning Jolyon lost a handful of positions on the run to La Source hairpin and was in eighth place, in heavy rain, at the end of lap one.
The rain intensified and the safety car was deployed before the race was brought to a temporary halt. The race resumed 20 minutes later behind the safety car with Jolyon eighth. He settled into the race and began to close on Mitch Evans in front of him. As he did so, Simon Trummer and Nathanael Berthon in front of him collided, promoting Jolyon to sixth place.
Palmer was called into the pits for fresh wet tyres on lap 14 by the DAMS team, rejoining in ninth place, and immediately posted his fastest lap of the race. As those in front pitted, Jolyon regained sixth place, a position he held to the flag.
Jolyon commented: "On Friday we were really strong, and then we've had two really tough races. Today (Sunday) I struggled a lot with the balance - we had too much understeer, so lacked pace and damaged the tyres.
"It's been a disappointing weekend, but even on a disappointing weekend, we're still on the podium. Felipe [Nasr] has shown there is still a fight on for the title and we will come back strong at Monza."
GP2 Feature Race result, Spa Francorchamps:
1. R Marciello, Racing Engineering, 25 laps
2. S Vandoorne, ART GP, +2.0s
3. J Cecotto, Trident, +35.3s
4. F Nasr, Carlin, +39.8s
5. M Evans, Russian Time, +50.5s
6. J Palmer, DAMS, +60.1s
7. A Markelov, Russian Time, +61.1s
8. D Abt, Hilmer, +61.7s
9. A Negrao, Arden, +62.8s
10. D De Jong, MP Motorsport, +65.4s
GP2 Sprint Race, Spa Francorchamps result:
1. F Nasr, Carlin, 18 laps
2. J Cecotto, Trident, +5.1s
3. J Palmer, DAMS, +7.1s
4. M Evans, Russian Time, +7.5s
5. D Abt, Hilmer, +10.0s
6. S Vandoorne, ART GP, +10.6s
7. S Coletti, Racing Engineering, +14.0s
8. A Negrao, Arden, +20.3s
9. T Dillmann, Caterham, +21.6s
10. J Leal, Carlin, +22.4s
1. Jolyon Palmer, DAMS, 210pts
2. Felipe Nasr, Carlin, 178pts
3. Stoffel Vandoorne, ART GP, 135pts
4. Johnny Cecotto, Trident, 127pts
5. Mitch Evans, Russian Time, 110pts
6. Stefano Coletti, Racing Engineering, 98pts