Jolyon Palmer closed out a near-perfect weekend at Monza, in which he won both races from pole, by warning his rivals not to underestimate his title challenge.
After taking a win and a second place in the season opener at Silverstone the 19-year-old’s results at the next event in Morocco were far more ordinary – but at the legendary Italian venue he came roaring back to lead the championship ahead of Dean Stoneman and Philipp Eng.
Palmer said after his second victory: “I think at Marrakech Philipp and Dean both thought it was a two horse race for the championship – it’s obviously not, Dean’s had a not too bad weekend but Philipp has had a terrible weekend and I’ve had a great one, and it proves the championship is open.
“I think anyone in the top eight or top ten can still win it – it’s very open and we’re only a third of the way through. It’s great to be leading at this stage but there’s a long, long way to go.”
His victory in the second race of the weekend was relatively unchallenged. Will Bratt grabbed second at the start but suffered clutch problems throughout the race and was unable to fight Palmer for the win, losing the place back to Sergey Afanasiev with a lap to go.
He said: “The clutch started slipping from lap three onwards and it got steadily worse and worse through the race. I couldn’t use the boost and it slipped through the Lesmos, but I’m happy to finish because to be honest I didn’t think I was going to.
“It was disappointing losing first, I think it was my race, but there’s more races left. Obviously, I am very pleased to come in on the podium – I almost held on to second and to be only four seconds behind Jolyon means I’m pretty pleased with the performances regardless of the problem.”
And the reigning Euroseries 3000 champion warned that better results would come now that he was more used to the car: “We’re three rounds in now and I’m definitely starting to feel more at home with the car now.
“There’s six rounds left, so hopefully I can go to the Zolder test – I know my way around the track and can find out all the braking points for this car, get a feel for this car around there, and challenge again.”
Stoneman finished fourth in the race, with Paul Rees seventh and Jack Clarke 12th.