Jonathan Palmer

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For the American football player, see Jonathan Palmer (American football).
Jonathan Palmer
Jonathan Palmer Profile.jpg
Born (1956-11-07) 7 November 1956 (age 58)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality United Kingdom British
Active years 19831989
Teams Williams, RAM, Zakspeed, Tyrrell
Races 88 (83 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 14
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 1
First race 1983 European Grand Prix
Last race 1989 Australian Grand Prix

Jonathan Charles Palmer (born 7 November 1956 [1] in Lewisham, London[2]) is a former Formula One racing driver and now the majority shareholder and chief executive of MotorSport Vision, whose portfolio includes the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, England, the PalmerSport corporate driving event at Bedford Autodrome in England, and the rights to the British Superbike Championship.

Racing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Educated at Brighton College, Palmer dovetailed his medical studies at Guy's Hospital with club racing in an Austin Healey Sprite and Marcos. He practised as a Doctor at Cuckfield and Brighton hospitals before opting for a driving career after Formula Ford success in 1978–80. Progressing to Formula Three, he won the 1981 British Formula Three Championship, next achieving international single-seater success as 1983 European Formula Two Champion. His rapid ascent through the ranks landed him a Williams Formula One test drive in 1982 and BRDC Gold Star the following year.

Formula One[edit]

Palmer driving for Zakspeed at the 1985 German Grand Prix.

Palmer made his F1 debut at Brands Hatch on 25 September 1983, driving for the Williams team in the European Grand Prix. Signing up for the Skoal Bandit RAM March team in 1984, he scored several top ten finishes, before a move to the Zakspeed team for the following two seasons.

A switch to Ken Tyrrell’s outfit for the 1987 season brought about a change of fortune. The normally aspirated, Cosworth-powered Tyrrell was outpaced by turbocharged cars but reliable and nimble on tighter circuits and Palmer took it to a string of points finishes, culminating in a career best of fourth in Australia. He won the Jim Clark Cup, a championship for drivers of non-turbocharged machines. Prior to the 1987 season Palmer was also in talks with McLaren boss Ron Dennis about becoming the team's #2 driver to dual World Champion Alain Prost. Ultimately Dennis chose former Ferrari driver Stefan Johansson for 1987 and it was not until a week before the opening race in Brazil that Palmer managed to sign a contract with Tyrrell.

Palmer stayed with the declining Tyrell team for the following two seasons before signing for McLaren at the end of 1989 as the team's test driver, alongside Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger. Palmer's work for McLaren included development of the McLaren F1 road car, which included a then record-breaking 231 mph run at the Nardo test track.[3] His road car development work also includes a special edition Caterham 7 JPE, an extreme variant of the enduring sportscar.

Sportscars[edit]

In addition to his F1 career, Palmer competed with success in the World Sportscar Championship alongside many other Grand Prix drivers. Racing a Group C Porsche from 1983 to 1990, highlights included victory in the 1984 1000 km of Brands Hatch, and second place in the 1985 24 Hours of Le Mans. He returned to Le Mans in 1991 with the works Sauber Mercedes-Benz team.

Post F1[edit]

A season in the British Touring Car Championship for the Prodrive BMW team followed in 1991 but by now Palmer's main focus was on his business interests with the formation of PalmerSport, which specialises in corporate driving activities. In addition Palmer had joined the BBC F1 commentary team as a pitlane reporter and, following the sudden death of James Hunt from a heart attack shortly after the 1993 Canadian Grand Prix, Palmer was promoted to the commentary box alongside Murray Walker. The partnership lasted until the end of the 1996 season, when the BBC lost the rights to broadcast F1. Palmer then joined the CBC for annual commentary of the Grand Prix of Canada, starting in 1997. The other races used the ITV commentary on TSN.

Business career[edit]

The same year Palmer acquired the lease to develop Bedford Autodrome. Opening in 1999, this has four separate circuits and six miles of track, and is used for trackdays and testing in addition to the PalmerSport corporate driving activity. This coincided with further business ventures, including the launch of the Formula Palmer Audi Championship, which provided a lower cost alternative to Formula 3. Inaugural 1998 champion Justin Wilson won a fully funded season in Formula 3000 and with Palmer managing his career, a then-unique share issue in the driver was launched after he won the F1 feeder formula, helping him to secure a drive with the Minardi team. Formula Palmer Audi has also helped shape the careers of many drivers, including triple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx.

In 2004 Palmer, along with business partners John Britten and Sir Peter Ogden acquired the Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Cadwell Park circuits from Octagon, under the umbrella of MotorSport Vision (MSV). The company, of which Palmer is Chief Executive, also co-ordinated and ran the Formula Palmer Audi Championship, before acquiring the commercial rights for the British Superbike Championship in 2008 and, in the same year, successfully tendering to operate the FIA Formula Two Championship. In addition, MSV introduced and runs the BRDC Formula 4 Championship, an affordable and competitive single-seater series for young career drivers; administers several club series and championships under the MSVR banner; and organises trackdays as MSV Trackdays.

Personal life[edit]

In addition to his business interests, Palmer has also helped develop the racing careers of his two sons: Jolyon Palmer is a race winner and GP2 Series champion and aims to follow in his father’s footsteps into F1, whilst William is also winning races in his first full season in the BRDC F4 Championship.

Racing record[edit]

Complete European Formula Two Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Pos Pts
1982 Ralt Racing Ltd. Ralt Honda SIL
15
HOC
Ret
THR
11
NÜR
14
MUG
5
VAL
5
PAU
6
SPA
6
HOC
Ret
DON
3
MAN
Ret
PER
DNS
MIS 9th 10
1983 Ralt Racing Ltd. Ralt Honda SIL
Ret
THR
3
HOC
1
NÜR
4
VAL
2
PAU
3
JAR
3
DON
1
MIS
1
PER
1
ZOL
1
MUG
1
1st 68

Complete Formula One results[edit]

(key) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 WDC Pts
1983 TAG Williams Team Williams FW08C Cosworth V8 BRA USW FRA SMR MON BEL DET CAN GBR GER AUT NED ITA EUR
13
RSA NC 0
1984 Skoal Bandit Formula 1 Team RAM 01 Hart Straight-4 BRA
8
RSA
Ret
NC 0
RAM 02 BEL
10
SMR
9
FRA
13
MON
DNQ
CAN DET
Ret
DAL
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
9
NED
9
ITA
Ret
EUR
Ret
POR
Ret
1985 West Zakspeed Racing Zakspeed 841 Zakspeed Straight-4 BRA POR
Ret
SMR
DNS
MON
11
CAN DET FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
Ret
NED
Ret
ITA BEL EUR RSA AUS NC 0
1986 West Zakspeed Racing Zakspeed 861 Zakspeed Straight-4 BRA
Ret
ESP
Ret
SMR
Ret
MON
12
BEL
13
CAN
Ret
DET
8
FRA
Ret
GBR
9
GER
Ret
HUN
10
AUT
Ret
ITA
Ret
POR
12
MEX
10
AUS
9
NC 0
1987 Data General Team Tyrrell Tyrrell DG016 Cosworth V8 BRA
10
SMR
Ret
BEL
Ret
MON
5
DET
11
FRA
7
GBR
8
GER
5
HUN
7
AUT
14
ITA
14
POR
10
ESP
Ret
MEX
7
JPN
8
AUS
4
11th 7
1988 Tyrrell Racing Organisation Tyrrell 017 Cosworth V8 BRA
Ret
SMR
14
MON
5
MEX
DNQ
CAN
6
DET
5
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
11
HUN
Ret
BEL
12
ITA
DNQ
POR
Ret
ESP
Ret
JPN
12
AUS
Ret
14th 5
1989 Tyrrell Racing Organisation Tyrrell 017B Cosworth V8 BRA
7
25th 2
Tyrrell 018 SMR
6
MON
9
MEX
Ret
USA
9
CAN
Ret
FRA
10
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
13
BEL
14
ITA
Ret
POR
6
ESP
10
JPN
Ret
AUS
DNQ

1st place in the Jim Clark Cup, for naturally aspirated cars. [4]

Complete British Touring Car Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position – 1983 in class) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap – 1 point awarded 1983 all races, 1983 in class)

Year Team Car Class 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 DC Pts Class
1983 Cheylesmore BMW Motorsport BMW 635CSi A SIL OUL THR BRH THR SIL DON SIL DON BRH SIL
5
30th 2 14th
1991 BMW Team Finance BMW M3 SIL
7
SNE
Ret
DON
Ret
THR
6
SIL
111
BRH
6
SIL
5
DON
1

4
DON
2

3
OUL
5
BRH
1

7
BRH
2

6
DON
Ret
THR
2
SIL
21
7th 66
  1. ^ – Race was stopped due to heavy rain. No points were awarded.

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Pos Class No Team Co-Drivers Chassis Tyre Laps
Engine
1983 8 C 14 United Kingdom Canon Racing
United Kingdom GTi Engineering
Netherlands Jan Lammers
United Kingdom Richard Lloyd
Porsche 956  ? 339
Porsche Type-935 2.6 L Turbo Flat-6
1984 27
DNF
C1 14 United Kingdom GTi Engineering Netherlands Jan Lammers Porsche 956 D 239
Porsche Type-935 2.6 L Turbo Flat-6
1985 2nd C1 14 United Kingdom Richard Lloyd Racing United Kingdom James Weaver
United Kingdom Richard Lloyd
Porsche 956 GTi G 371
Porsche Type-935 2.6 L Turbo Flat-6
1987 30
DNF
C1 15 United Kingdom Liqui Moly Equipe United Kingdom James Weaver
United States Price Cobb
Porsche 962C GTi G 112
Porsche Type-935 2.8 L Turbo Flat-6
1990 DNS C1 8 West Germany Joest Porsche Racing France Bob Wollek
France Philippe Alliot
Porsche 962C M -
Porsche Type-935 3.0 L Turbo Flat-6
1991 20
DNF
C2 8 Germany Team Sauber Mercedes Sweden Stanley Dickens
Denmark Kurt Thiim
Mercedes-Benz C11 G 223
Mercedes-Benz M119 5.0L Turbo V8

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Stefan Johansson
British Formula Three
Champion

1981
Succeeded by
Tommy Byrne
Preceded by
Corrado Fabi
European Formula Two
Champion

1983
Succeeded by
Mike Thackwell
Awards
Preceded by
John Watson
Autosport
British Competition Driver of the Year

1983
Succeeded by
Derek Bell
Preceded by
Nigel Mansell
Autosport
British Competition Driver of the Year

1987
Succeeded by
Martin Brundle