Palmer: Maldonado 'not a bad driver'
9 February 2016 – Jolyon Palmer has defended Pastor Maldonado's abilities behind the wheel after the Venezuelan lost his Formula 1 drive at Renault ahead of the 2016 season.
Palmer and Maldonado, both GP2 champions, were set to race alongside each other, but the latter was forced out amid sponsorship trouble, with Kevin Magnussen stepping in.
Maldonado, a one-time Grand Prix winner, came under fire during his five-year spell in the top echelon, but Palmer feels that the criticism was not entirely justified.
"He's not a bad driver. He won GP2 and he won a Grand Prix, remember," Palmer explained in an interview with The Guardian, when discussing the axed Maldonado.
"Throughout last season he ran Romain Grosjean close a lot of the time. It was just that he made mistakes at important moments. That's where Romain had the advantage.
"But I think Kevin will present a stronger, more consistent challenge. He and Jenson [Button] were very even at McLaren. He's a known reference point for me."
Palmer, 25, remains confident in his own abilities, having built on his GP2 title triumph with a year as Lotus' reserve, which included an array of practice outings.
"After my time in GP2 and testing I feel in good shape. I've got good experience," he said.
"I'm looking forward to going toe-to-toe with the best drivers in the world. My strength has always been going wheel-to-wheel. That's what I missed in the test driving last year.
"I can't wait to get started because the winter has been long."