Dr Johnathan Palmer

Dr Johnathan Palmer

Palmer's path to the top of motor racing was hardly typical. With no family experience of motorsport competition, Palmer scavenged £162 for a tatty Austin Healey Sprite when he started as an 18 year old medical student at Guy's in London.

Promising performances increased over the next two years, racing a more powerful Marcos, before Jonathan moved to Formula Ford. Despite supposedly training as a doctor, he would spend most of his time working on his racing cars! After qualifying in 1979, Palmer continued to race Formula Ford in 1980 before taking a supposed one year sabbatical from medicine in 1981.

 

He made his single seater reputation in Formula Ford, winning the 1982 British Formula 3 Championship before winning the '83 European Formula 2 crown in a Ralt-Honda, a year that also saw his Formula 1 debut in a third works Williams FW08C in the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch.

In 1984 he graduated full-time to Formula 1 with the RAM team and thereafter switched to the German Zakspeed team for 1985 and 86. Three seasons with Tyrrell followed, during which he took the 1988 Jim Clark Trophy for the best-placed driver of a non-turbocharged car competing in the World Championship. By the end of 1989 Palmer had been eclipsed by Jean Alesi's arrival in the Tyrrell team after which he was only too happy to take over as test driver for the Honda Marlboro McLaren team in 1990.

After the death of James Hunt in 1993, Palmer took over as Murray Walker's partner commentating on the Formula 1 World Championship for BBC Television, a role which lasted two seasons.

More recently he established the Formula Palmer Audi junior single seater category which was a great hit with ambitious aspiring racers and also owns the circuits: Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park, Oulton Park and Snetterton.