Jolyon Palmer’s career with the Renault F1 team will end after Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, the Briton has unexpectedly confirmed after qualifying at the Suzuka circuit.
“Tomorrow’s Japanese GP will be my last race for Renault,” he wrote on his Instagram feed. “Thanks everyone for the support during the last 2 years, it means a lot!”
The “mutual decision” not to continue for the remainder of the current season has come after Renault was able to successfully negotiate an early release of Carlos Sainz Jr by Scuderia Toro Rosso. The Spaniard will drive for the Enstone squad at the United States Grand Prix in two weeks’ time at Austin.
Palmer’s position at the Renault team has been tenuous since the team announced it had secured Sainz on loan from Toro Rosso in exchange for the Italian team’s termination of its customer engine deal to become Honda’s works outfit next year. Following the announcement in Singapore of Palmer’s sacking, many insiders have expected he would be released early to pave the way for Sainz’s early switch and the possibility that the Spaniard could help the team improve its position in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
Sainz’s switch will likely drive Toro Rosso to confirm Pierre Gasly for all of the remaining races this season. The junior Red Bull team had promoted its reserve driver and last year’s GP2 Series champion to a Formula 1 race seat for the Malaysian and Japanese Grands Prix in place of the beleaguered Daniil Kvyat, but with Sainz moving early it will likely be forced to bring the French youngster on for the rest of the year.
That will prevent Gasly from having a crack at winning the Japanese Super Formula championship title, given its season finale clashes with the United States Grand Prix on October 22.
As for Palmer, it would appear that – for the short term at least – he is unlikely to remain in Formula 1 in a racing capacity. He is not believed to be in the running for the only 2018 vacancies left at Williams, Toro Rosso and Sauber.
Image via Renault Sport F1