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 59)
Lewisham, London, England
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality British
Active years 19831989
Teams Williams, RAM, Zakspeed, Tyrrell
Entries 88 (83 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 14
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 1
First entry 1983 European Grand Prix
Last entry 1989 Australian Grand Prix

Jonathan Charles Palmer (born 7 November 1956)[1][2] is a British former Formula One racing driver. Also a doctor, he briefly practised medicine before he opted for a career in motorsport.

Active in Formula One between 1983 and 1989, Palmer 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. He has taken a role in the racing careers of Jolyon Palmer and Will Palmer, his two sons.

He is currently the majority shareholder and chief executive of MotorSport Vision, a motor sports organization.

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 Buckfield 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 made his Formula One debut at Brands Hatch on 25 September 1983, driving a Williams in the European Grand Prix. 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 7th in the British Touring Car Championship, driving a Prodrive BMW. Also that year he formed PalmerSport, a corporate driving organization, and 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.[3] In addition, he helped develop the Caterham 7 JPE.

Business career[edit]

Having acquired the lease to develop Bedford Autodrome, Palmer opened the venue in 1999 as four separate circuits with a total of six miles of track, to be used for track days, testing, and PalmerSport corporate driving activity. The same year, Palmer launched the Formula Palmer Audi Championship 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, a share issue in Wilson helped him secure a drive with Minardi. Triple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx also competed in Formula Palmer Audi early in his career.

In 2004 Jonathan 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, with Palmer as Chief Executive, organized 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. It now runs the BRDC Formula 4 Championship, as well as several other club series, championships, and MSV Track days, under the MSVR banner.

Personal life[edit]

Palmer has helped develop the racing careers of his two sons: Jolyon Palmer, the 2014 GP2 Series champion and current F1 driver; and Will Palmer, who won the BRDC F4 Championship in 2015.

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 2 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 3
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