Sochi Autodrom has been a positive location for Jolyon Palmer, it being the track where he secured his 2014 GP2 Series championship title, through a race win. After his first top ten qualifying performance in Bahrain, Jolyon’s aiming for his first top ten race finish of 2017.
What are your thoughts on Sochi?
For me the best thing about Russia is that I won the first ever GP2 Series race there and that race won me the championship, so I have very good memories of the Sochi Autodrom! I got a great start so led from the first lap but was under a lot of pressure all the way. It’s great to win any race, but to win a race where you’ve had pressure at every turn, that’s a real achievement.
What’s the challenge of Sochi in a Formula 1 car?
It’s a smooth and still pretty new track with plenty to think about in its layout. We’ve seen that it can start with pretty low grip levels at the beginning of the weekend, but it will be interesting to see how the extra downforce of 2017 copes with that. Last year we struggled to the car where we wanted in qualifying but we went better in the race.
How do you feel progress has been so far this season?
There’s definitely been progress, but there’s certainly more to come. Getting into the top ten in qualifying for the first time in Bahrain was particularly satisfying. I’d struggled a lot in the FP3 session, so myself and my engineer, Chris Richards, sat down and we changed the set-up of the car so it worked far better. My race in Bahrain was frustrating as we weren’t able to unlock the pace from the car – which was something Nico suffered from too. The real positive is that the team is taking a step forward at every race so we’re hopeful that Sochi continues in this vein.