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    We've pumped an awful lot of money into capital investment. You can see that all around the factory

    Nick Chester

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    Palmer bows out early

    The news on Saturday night that the Briton would be standing down at Renault following the race took many people by surprise. Accepted paddock wisdom suggested that a deal for financial compensation was probably finally realised, triggering the change.

    On a horrible day for the French team which saw it drop from seventh to eighth place overall as Haas moved up, and Nico Hulkenberg retired from points contention with a DRS problem, Palmer hauled himself from 18th on the grid to 12th, only 1.4s off Massa and sixth-tenths down on Fernando Alonso.

    “We had a solid last race, we started from the back and with one more lap, I think we could have had 10th,” he said. “It’s been a tough season but the team and I have been through a lot, I’ve been here since the start of this new era. We’ve come a long way and I’ve enjoyed it. I wish the team all the best in the future.”

    With so few 2018 seats remaining – and with the market for them so crowded – as things stand, it looks like his F1 career could well be over.

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    Formula 1 2018 Honda Japanese Grand Prix

    Japan 2018

    Race results

    1 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:27:17.062 25
    2 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes +12.919s 18
    3 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing +14.295s 15
    4 Daniel Ricciardo RIC Red Bull Racing +19.495s 12
    5 Kimi Räikkönen RAI Ferrari +50.998s 10
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