Palmer unfazed by his year out of competition

Jolyon Palmer is adamant his year away from racing will not have an impact on his performance when he lines up on the F1 grid in Australia.

Having signed as a Lotus test driver for the 2015 season, Palmer did not take part in a single competitive race.

He did, however, spend most grand prix Fridays putting in the laps in Lotus' F1 car in first practice.

Now gearing up for his debut at the Australian Grand Prix, the Renault driver believes his ability to race won't have taken a knock during his year away from competition.

"In Austin, when the deal was announced, it didn't sunk in at all really," the British racer told Autosport.

"Even though I am not racing now it is beginning to sink in a little more, because with no races at the moment it means come the next grand prix I will be racing in that one, which is very exciting.

"Although I've had a year out of proper racing, I think when it comes to racecraft and strategy, they are either in you or they're not.

"I will find out in Melbourne when the lights go out whether I am suddenly feeling a little bit rusty. I hope not!

"The racing side of it you're born with, and the strategy side I have been really involved with that in 2015.

"It's been very useful because I've been listening in on everything, and even sometimes getting involved in the decisions. It's been good to see things from an engineer's point of view.

"When you're driving you don't understand what everyone on the pitwall is going through, and all the pain.

"So to have a year of people talking to, and about, the race drivers has been very interesting."

The 2014 GP2 Champion still has weeks to wait until testing begins but says there is a lot for him to do in the meantime.

"Where the work's going to be is with the team.

"I've still got stuff to learn. I will be a rookie, I won't have done a race start or an F1 race distance, so I'll be up in the factory a lot on the simulator and pouring through data.

"It's going to be really intense. That's the difference between F1 and GP2, it's the intensity of the work and the amount of different engineers and the attention to detail as well."

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