In the USA GP, held at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas (24 October), Magnussen and his Renault Sport engineers changed tactics as the race progressed to a two and finally a three-stop strategy for fresh tyres.
From 18th on the grid he crossed the line an inspired 11th within reach of a hallowed top-ten points-scoring result (although a time penalty demoted him to an eventual 12th). Palmer started three places in front of Magnussen (15th) but finished behind in 13th – frustrated at having lost places in the opening exchanges.
Still both cars had shown solid performance on a circuit that comprises a mixture of low, medium and high-speed corners plus two long straights.
Palmer though was ahead of Magnussen when the chequered flag was waved at the end of the Mexican GP seven days later (30 October) at the very fast Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit outside Mexico City.
He went from 21st on the grid to finish an excellent 14th just behind the McLaren-Hondas of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso – thanks to putting in consistently fast lap times during a mammoth 70-lap stint on one set of tyres (thought to be a record in modern-day F1 racing).
Even more remarkably he was in a replacement chassis new to him that weekend after his original had been damaged in a trip over the kerbs in Saturday morning’s practice session – this forcing Palmer to miss qualifying and hence his lowly grid position.
Magnussen was able to make it through to Q2 in Mexico and qualify 14th fastest for one of his best grid positions of the season but unfortunately tumbled to 17th.
At the time of writing the Renault Sport Formula One Team was arriving in Brazil for the first of the final two GPs of 2016 at the Interlagos circuit (13 Nov). Only the Abu Dhabi GP (27 Nov) remained after that…