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The Jolyon Palmer Column

Jolyon Palmer has been writing a regular column for C4F1 throughout 2016

It may be the Christmas holidays but Jolyon Palmer has found time to send us his final C4F1 column of 2016 - and he's already looking forward to what lies ahead in 2017 in his second season with the Renault Sport Formula 1 team.

The closer we get to Christmas the more time we get to chill out and start looking forward to Christmas dinner.

There are two days in the year when I can eat what I want and one of them is Christmas Day and the other is my birthday when I can have a bit of cake.

So don’t worry about the turkey and trimmings - I can eat it all. My Mum is normally the head chef on Christmas Day but it’s a bit of a family affair so I might peel some carrots and parsnips. I’m looking forward to it.

Formula 1 drivers are the easiest people in the world to buy presents for because we are quite happy with our lot. We’re not too disappointed if we don’t get the exact present we were hoping for because we get to drive F1 cars and live the dream.

Don’t get me wrong another pair of socks under the tree would be slightly uncreative… It’s all a bit of family fun at our house anyway so there’s lots of enjoyment out of giving and receiving presents.

The week after the final race in Abu Dhabi we had the team Christmas party just down the road from the factory in Enstone.
It was a black tie affair – no party hats required – and it was great to go and catch up with a lot of the factory-based staff who I don’t see on the road.

I think Nico Hulkenberg went to the Force India party this year for a bit of a farewell and I look forward to be working alongside him in 2017!

The Mercedes seat is going to be the best Christmas present for someone this year.

The news that Nico Rosberg was retiring was incredible. I couldn’t believe it.

I was at a motor show doing interviews and I was just saying how I thought Nico would probably come back next year even stronger after winning the title, then I checked my phone, read the news and thought ‘oh maybe not because he’s retiring!’

I don’t think anyone could see it coming and I couldn’t fathom it at first either.

He’s got an incredible opportunity with the fastest car in the world, with the strongest team for three years in a row, he’s world champion - it’s not something I’d be giving up that’s for sure.

But in some ways I can understand his decision too. I don’t have a family and I don’t have kids – and I’m not Nico Rosberg. He has his own reasons and you have to respect that – it is a hell of a brave call though.

For those of us on the grid in 2017 it’s continued to be a busy time after Abu Dhabi. There have been lots of things to do to close the year with the team as well as looking ahead to next season with work on the simulator, and that will really start to build up in January.

I also like to be in the factory so I can go and speak to the engineers and the design department to see how the new car is coming along.

It may be approaching holiday time but I’m never completely out of the loop. If any of the team has a question then I’m on the end of the phone. You have to remember that everyone in the team wants a holiday at this time of year so hopefully there won’t be any calls on Christmas Day!

The new 2017 season brings big changes to F1 as the form book and historical information goes out of the window with the completely new generation of cars.

The biggest thing from a driver’s point of view is that the cars are going to be super-quick, especially through the corners. 
They will be exciting to drive but on the other hand that will bring extra physical pressures.

What makes it so physical for us is the G-force and the energy that you put into the car and so if we’re going quicker through the corners and we have higher G-forces that takes it’s toll on your body.

The training will be really intense over the winter to make sure we can get into it pretty quickly at the first test.

The lap times are predicted to be between three and five seconds quicker than they were in 2016 but, at the start of the year, those times could be determined by what Pirelli does with the new tyres. Still, a lot of the lap time will come from cornering.

The sort of lap times we are predicting in 2017 would put the Manors on pole so that indicates how big a jump it could be.

If you then consider Mercedes adding that sort of pace too then the cars are going to be going really quick. I would think we would be breaking track records at most places.

I’m going to wait and see how overtaking is affected because overtaking in 2016 was so difficult that I don’t see how it can be much harder to be brutally honest.

It may seem easier because of DRS and the different tyres to choose from but unless you have a big horsepower advantage or a much fresher or softer compound of tyre it is almost impossible.

I followed Kev in Austin in the same car and I couldn’t get near him but when I was a long way behind him I was much quicker. I don't remember one teammate being able to legitimately overtake another. The closest time was probably between the two Red Bulls in Malaysia.

So for that reason I don’t think overtaking can get much harder for next year. The theory says it should but it depends on the airflow off the car in front and at the moment, for whatever reason, it’s been difficult to follow under these regulations.

We all want to race in F1 because they are the fastest cars in the world. The faster they go the more fun it is and the bigger the challenge.

A really exciting time for all of us is just around the other side of the holidays but until then… Merry Christmas and see you in the New Year.