The 24-year-old Brit has been steadily working his way up the formula racing ladder, winning races in Formula Two and GP2 over the past several years before winning the latter title last season. During that victorious campaign he also served as a test driver for Force India, before switching to Lotus this season and getting 10 grand prix practice sessions under his harness.
Jolyon's own experience undoubtedly sealed the deal, but his upbringing surely put him in a prime position to make it in single-seater racing. He's the son of former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, himself a past Formula Two champ before completing half a dozen seasons in Formula One. It's what the elder Palmer's been up to since leaving the grid, however, that's put the son in such a strong position.
As head of MotorSport Vision, Jonathan Palmer controls five major racing tracks across the UK – including BrandsHatch, Outlton Park, Snetterton, Cadwell Park and the Bedford Autodrome. He also runs a couple of trackday programs, founded the now-defunct Formula Palmer Audi series and continues to operate the FIA Formula Two Championship, the BRDC Formula 4 Championship, and the British Superbike Championship. All of which gave young Jolyon plenty of room to run as he developed his career.
Will that be enough to put the young Palmer in a position to win next season? Only time will tell. But he arrives at a pivotal time for the team, which is expected to transition back from the privately held Lotus operation to Renault's hands, running once again as the factory team – but saddled with an engine package that has been underperforming against the competition. One way or another, it ought to be an interesting time to be in Enstone.