Jonathan Palmer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jonathan Palmer
Jonathan Palmer Profile.jpg
Palmer in 2011
Born (1956-11-07) 7 November 1956 (age 62)
Lewisham, London, England
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityUnited Kingdom British
Active years19831989
TeamsWilliams, RAM, Zakspeed, Tyrrell
Entries88 (83 starts)
Championships0
Wins0
Podiums0
Career points14
Pole positions0
Fastest laps1
First entry1983 European Grand Prix
Last entry1989 Australian Grand Prix

Jonathan Charles Palmer (born 7 November 1956)[1][2] is a British businessman and former Formula One racing driver. Before opting for a career in motor racing, Palmer trained as a doctor at London’s Guys Hospital. He also worked as a junior doctor at Cuckfield and Brighton hospitals.

He is currently the majority shareholder and Chief Executive of MotorSport Vision (MSV), a company that runs six UK motorsport circuits, the world-renowned PalmerSport corporate driving event at Bedford Autodrome and several racing championships including British Superbikes and BRDC British F3.[3]

Palmer’s success in turning around the fortunes of many of the country’s best-loved race circuits has earned him recognition from leading industry publications, winning the 2018 ‘MotorSport Hero’ prize at the Autocar Awards [4], as well as being inducted into the Motor Sport Magazine Hall of Fame the same year[5].

Prior to his business life, Palmer was active in Formula One between 1983 and 1989, and drove for Tyrrell, Williams, RAM, and Zakspeed. He won 14 Championship points from 83 starts. He also raced a Group C Porsche in sports car events between 1983 and 1990, most notably winning the 1984 1000 km of Brands Hatch with co-driver Jan Lammers and taking second place at the 1985 24 Hours of Le Mans with co-drivers James Weaver and Richard Lloyd.

Palmer helped develop the McLaren F1 road car, and drove one to a new speed record for production cars.


Racing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Following his education at Brighton College, Palmer raced an Austin Healey Sprite and a Marcos in club events while he was a medical student at Guy’s Hospital. He went on to work as a doctor at Cuckfield and Brighton hospitals, and opted for a professional driving career after he had participated in Formula Ford from 1978 to 1980. He won the British Formula 3 Championship in 1981, and landed a Williams Formula One test drive in 1982. The following year he won the European Formula Two Championship, and the British Racing Drivers' Club awarded him their Gold Star.

Formula One[edit]

Palmer driving for Zakspeed at the 1985 German Grand Prix

Palmer joined Williams as a test driver for the 1982 and 1983 seasons whilst racing in F2, and made his Formula One debut at Brands Hatch on 25 September 1983, driving a Williams in the European Grand Prix. This drive was a 'thank you' from Frank Williams and Patrick Head. He finished 25th out of 30 starters. Moving to the Skoal Bandit RAM March team in 1984, his six finishes yielded one 8th place, three 9th, one 10th, and one 13th. He joined Zakspeed in 1985, starting in eight races and retiring from all except the 1985 Detroit Grand Prix, where he finished 11th. Sixteen starts with the same team in 1986 resulted in eight retirements and a best finish of 8th in Detroit.

In 1987, Palmer talked with McLaren boss Ron Dennis about becoming the team's No. 2 driver to double World Champion Alain Prost. Dennis ultimately signed Stefan Johansson, and Palmer joined Tyrrell a week before the season’s opening race in Brazil. Although outpaced by its turbocharged competitors, Tyrrell’s normally-aspirated Cosworth-powered car proved reliable, and it was nimble on tighter circuits. Palmer won championship points in three races, and it was in the Australian Grand Prix that he achieved his career-best fourth-place finish. He also won the Jim Clark Cup, a championship for drivers of normally aspirated cars. He stayed with Tyrrell for the next two seasons, during which his best results were two 5th-place finishes and three 6th. At the end of 1989 he signed as McLaren’s test driver.

Sportscars[edit]

Between 1983 and 1990 Palmer competed in the World Sportscar Championship at the wheel of a Group C Porsche. With co-driver Jan Lammers he won the 1984 1000 km of Brands Hatch. At Le Mans, his best result from five starts was second place in 1985, with co-drivers James Weaver and Richard Lloyd.

Post F1[edit]

In 1991 Palmer came seventh in the British Touring Car Championship, driving a Prodrive BMW. Also that year he became a pit lane reporter for the BBC F1 commentary team. Following James Hunt’s death from a heart attack after the 1993 Canadian Grand Prix, Palmer joined the BBC commentary box alongside Murray Walker. At the end of 1996 the BBC lost the rights to broadcast F1, and in 1997 Palmer joined the CBC for its annual commentary on the Grand Prix of Canada.

Road car development[edit]

Palmer’s work with McLaren included development of the McLaren F1 road car, and he drove one to a record-breaking 231 mph at the Nardo test track.[6]

Business career[edit]

PalmerSport was founded in 1991 to run corporate hospitality motorsport events. This was initially run from the Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire before the lease was acquired to develop the site now known as Bedford Autodrome.

Palmer opened the venue in 1999 as four separate circuits with a total of six miles of track, to become the permanent home for PalmerSport. The venue is also used for trackdays.

Palmer launched the Formula Palmer Audi Championship in 1998 as a less costly alternative to Formula 3. Inaugural champion Justin Wilson went on to win the Formula 3000 championship. With Palmer managing his career, an innovative share issue in Wilson helped him secure a Formula One drive with Minardi.

In 2004, Palmer, 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 has turned around the fortunes of each circuit, and implemented a programme of improvements at each venue to develop better facilities for spectators and circuit users. Snetterton in particular has been revitalised under MSV ownership, with the circuit undergoing a near total redesign in 2011, with several new corners allowing for three different circuit configurations, and the addition of large spectator viewing areas.

The company, with Palmer as Chief Executive, organised the Formula Palmer Audi Championship, acquired the commercial rights for the British Superbike Championship, and secured the right to operate the FIA Formula Two Championship from 2009 to 2012. It now runs the BRDC British F3 Championship, as well as several other club series and championships under the MSVR banner.

In 2009, MSV acquired the freehold of 800 acres of the Bedford Autodrome site and opened Bedford Aerodrome as a CAA licensed airfield in 2010.

MSV completed the freehold purchase of a substantial former military airbase in north-east France in 2015, which it will develop into a major international motorsports complex. [7]

In 2017 MSV acquired the Donington Park motor racing circuit, and implemented a multi-million pound program of improvements at the East Midlands track including a new bar, cafe and restaurant, a new circuit office, extensive resurfacing of paddock areas and internal roads and a new grandstand with spectacular views of the track.

Personal life[edit]

Jonathan’s two sons have both had successful motor racing careers. Jolyon Palmer, the 2014 GP2 Series champion, drove for RenaultSport F1 Team during the 2016 and 2017 seasons and is now a commentator and columnist for BBC Sport F1. Jonathan’s younger son Will Palmer won the BRDC F4 Championship and the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award in 2015, and finished second in Renault Eurocup in 2017. Will, who is reading economics at Bath university, stopped racing in 2018 to focus on his degree and a business career.

Jonathan also has two daughters: Emily, an accountant, and Alice, a professional equestrian showjumper.

Jonathan married Emma Collins in 2018, having separated from his first wife, Gill, in 2011.

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 Ralt RH6/82 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 Ralt RH6/83 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 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 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 415T 1.5 L4t 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 1500/4 1.5 L4t 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 1500/4 1.5 L4t 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 Ford Cosworth DFZ 3.5 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 Ford Cosworth DFZ 3.5 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 Ford Cosworth DFR 3.5 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
Source:[8]

1st place in the Jim Clark Cup, for naturally aspirated cars.[9]

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 Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1983 United Kingdom Canon Racing
United Kingdom GTi Engineering
Netherlands Jan Lammers
United Kingdom Richard Lloyd
Porsche 956 C 339 8th 8th
1984 United Kingdom GTi Engineering Netherlands Jan Lammers Porsche 956 C1 239 DNF DNF
1985 United Kingdom Richard Lloyd Racing United Kingdom James Weaver
United Kingdom Richard Lloyd
Porsche 956 GTi C1 371 2nd 2nd
1987 United Kingdom Liqui Moly Equipe United Kingdom James Weaver
United States Price Cobb
Porsche 962C GTi C1 112 DNF DNF
1990 Germany Joest Porsche Racing France Bob Wollek
France Philippe Alliot
Porsche 962C C1 DNS DNS
1991 Germany Team Sauber Mercedes Sweden Stanley Dickens
Denmark Kurt Thiim
Mercedes-Benz C11 C2 223 DNF DNF

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Drivers: Jonathan Palmer". grandprix.com. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  2. ^ "Jonathan Palmer". ESPN UK. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  3. ^ "PalmerSport at Bedford Autodrome - The world's best corporate hospitality driving event". www.palmersport.com. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Autocar Awards 2018: the winners". www.autocar.co.uk. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Motor Sport inducts Hall of Fame class of 2018". motorsportmagazine.com. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  6. ^ "McLaren F1 review". Car. Archived from the original on 9 November 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  7. ^ "MSV acquires former airbase in France for European expansion". news.msv.com. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  8. ^ Small, Steve (1994). The Guinness Complete Grand Prix Who's Who. Guinness. pp. 277–8. ISBN 0851127029.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-09.

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