Now a fully-fledged race driver for a new works team, Jolyon Palmer nonetheless cut a disappointed figure on Monday.
Renault’s 2016 car is an obvious evolution of its Mercedes-powered Lotus predecessor, which Palmer drive throughout last season as third driver.
“The car feels not so different,” the Briton said.
But he managed only 37 laps, and was dead last on the timesheets.
The difference, it seems, is the team’s switch from Mercedes to Renault power.
“We knew that it would not be easy and we wouldn’t do 100 laps. But 37 laps is not the ideal start,” said Palmer. “That’s basically one of my four days gone.”
Regarding the engine, “You could feel the difference,” he admitted. “The Mercedes has more power but the Renault has advantages for example with driveability.”
Similarly, Toro Rosso has switched the other way – from Renault to Ferrari power – and Carlos Sainz liked the feel of more horse power on Monday.
“The car is an evolution of last year,” he told the AS sports daily, “so what I’ve noticed so far is the engine. I can only say positive things about Ferrari.”
And Sainz said more power is not the only advantage of having moved away from Renault.
“Everything is also much simpler,” he explained. “There are fewer changes to make on the steering wheel — fewer buttons, more (is) automatic, more power.”
As for a team that has stayed with Renault power, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo said after Monday’s running: “It feels pretty much like the end of last season.”