In one of the least surprising driver announcements of the pre-season, 19-year-old Jolyon Palmer is to drive for a second season in Formula Two – the championship run by his father Jonathan.
The teenager was one of the least experienced drivers in the field last year and struggled for much of the season, but was a consistent finisher and came good in the penultimate race weekend with a confident sixth place at Imola.
He said: “Last season was a little disappointing for me until towards the end of the year when I scored my first points. I was also quick during winter testing and hopefully I can carry this momentum into my second F2 campaign.
“The testing in Portimão in December was particularly competitive and I went really well there, so this is hopefully a good sign that I can run at the front and get my first win in F2 this season.
“I will start the season on a race by race basis to see where I stand compared to the other drivers, but I really feel that I have the potential to be a contender and if things go my way, maybe even win the title.”
In winter testing he was one of the front-runners, matching or beating more experienced names from outside F2 and many of his former rivals.
Jonathan Palmer said: “As with a number of young drivers, F2 was always going to be a multi-year programme for Jolyon. Last year was very challenging – I think many people underestimated just how tough the competition was – but Jo improved encouragingly over the final couple of events. He was right on the pace in winter testing and should be a regular points scorer in 2010.”
The series has been trying to announce a confirmed driver per day over recent weeks, but Britons Ollie Hancock and Dean Smith have both been featured on its website as still seeking to finalise funding.
Smith, who stepped straight into winter testing from winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award with impressive results, said: “Right now F2 is definitely the plan. I really like the overall package: the cars are all very close, they’re a lot faster than F3 and the budget is very attractive. We are quite close to a deal now.”
And Hancock, who drove in the final races of last season following the death of Henry Surtees, said: “I want to come back to F2 for a title attack, it is the title or nothing for me this year. I learned a lot last year – I got quicker every time I got in the car and I ended up with good pace during the final round in Barcelona.
“Many drivers are struggling to find the budget for this season but I have several leads and many people are interested so we will see what happens – I am really hopeful.”