Meet Ipswich Town’s newest famous fan - Formula One star Jolyon Palmer
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town’s exploits in the early 2000s saw the club win plenty of admirers and a wave of new fans, including Britain’s newest Formula One star.
As the Blues won promotion to the Premier League in 2000, before storming to a highly impressive fifth-placed finish the following year, they captured the attention of a young Jolyon Palmer who, now aged 25, made his F1 debut for Renault at last month’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Born in Sussex, Palmer has no links to Ipswich but admitted a love of the club’s kit and their fairy tale rise under George Burley attracted him to the club, even if his first visit to Portman Road didn’t go according to plan.
“I supported them when I was young, I liked their kit and they had a few good players and just got promoted to the Premiership. It was more exciting than being a glory supporter,” the F1 star said.
“The first time I went to a game was at home to Liverpool, they lost 6-0 and got relegated a couple of months later so it wasn’t a very good start.
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“I’ve only been a couple of times to Portman Road, I’ve seen them play a few more times though away, usually in London as it’s closer to home. I haven’t been to a game for a long time though as I’m too busy with racing.
“I’ve got good memories of the glory days in the Premiership though, Marcus Stewart bagging goals and Matt Holland as captain. We had a great team then.”
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Palmer, the son of former Formula One driver and motorsport boss Jonathan, has risen through the ranks to earn his space on the F1 grid, with a GP2 Championship win in 2014 earning him test drives with Force India and then Lotus.
After being signed by Renault, he finished 11th on his Grand Prix debut in Melbourne before mechanical problems forced him out in Bahrain, with China next on the F1 calendar this weekend.
Palmer knows his debut season is going to be a tough one, but after a promising start is hopeful of getting in the points soon.
“I’m expecting it to be a busy year and extremely competitive, racing against the best drivers in the world,” he said.
“This is the ultimate challenge and one I have been waiting for a very long time so it is extremely exciting.
“I want to be happy with my own performance, I set high targets for myself so if I can achieve them I will be happy.
“Having been so close to the points in my debut race scoring some is the obvious short term target.”