As Jordan King continues to punch above his paucity of experience during his rookie campaign of Formula 3 competition in 2013, his speed, racecraft and superb overtaking prowess have carried the talented young Warwickshire ace to the top step of the podium for the first time – on home turf at Silverstone.
After featuring right up at the sharp end throughout practice at Brands, the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based hotshot was disappointed to qualify just 11th, 13th and seventh for the three races around the tight-and-twisty Kent track, each of which would last a physically gruelling and mentally draining 50 laps, affording competitors precious little respite – less still margin for error.
Be that as it may, in the opening encounter, King made up two spots early on before piling the pressure on his team-mate in eighth and pulling off an incisive manoeuvre into Paddock Hill Bend on lap 21 – when few of his adversaries were doing very much passing at all.
Subsequently promoted to seventh by a rival’s retirement, the McLaren Autosport Award finalist, British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar and MSA Academy member relentlessly closed down a daunting five-second deficit to the drivers ahead to take the chequered flag a mere two-thirds of a second adrift of fifth place, lapping faster than the leaders on occasion in what was truly a stirring effort.
A processional race two saw King finish where he had started, but he was advancing through the field once more in race three and setting some very fast lap times indeed when he became one of the victims of a flurry of controversial drive-through penalties for yellow flag infringements, dropping him from a podium-threatening sixth to a disgruntled 11th out of the 29 distinctly high-calibre contenders.
“Qualifying should have been better, which left us with a lot of ground to make up and on the back foot from the start,” he confessed, “especially around a circuit at which it’s so difficult to overtake. I knew it was going to be a tough weekend from that point on, but we worked hard with the team and made some excellent progress in the first race – I was really pleased with my overtaking, speed and racecraft. At Brands Hatch Indy, you have to take every chance when you can, judge it well and make it stick.
“I was right on the tail of the scrap over fifth by the end, but it was just impossible to do anything about it. On any other track, I’d definitely have been able to have a go... Our pace was good again in race three and I was moving up the order, but then I went a few hundredths of a second too fast under yellow flags and received a penalty. That was frustrating obviously, but at the end of the day, rules are rules. We were on for at least fifth without that, so it was annoying to miss out on such strong points.”
Fast forward just a handful of days, and the 19-year-old replicated his impressive form as he made his British F3 debut at Silverstone. Having displayed a characteristically deft touch in tricky conditions to conquer a damp and greasy track surface during practice and lay down an early benchmark, King proceeded to qualify fastest in the headlining International Class, pipped to the top spot outright only by a more experienced Invitation Class driver who was ineligible for championship points.
After unfortunately stalling at the start of race one, he wasted little time in battling his way brilliantly back from 13th to third, only for a coming-together as he attempted to seize second place to result in an early bath. Undeterred, King fairly scythed his way through the field in his Carlin-prepared, Volkswagen-powered Dallara single-seater in race two, storming from 18th to sixth and winding up barely two seconds shy of the rostrum at the close.
He incontrovertibly saved the very best ‘til last, however, by recovering from a troubled start to race three to regain second position and thereafter hound the Invitation Class leader right the way to the finish, prevailing in the International Class to notch up a magnificent maiden F3 triumph.
“I’d never driven on Cooper tyres before, so it was a bit of a leap into the unknown and a big learning curve for me,” reflected the Hugo Boss brand ambassador. “We put everything together in qualifying, though, and I was happy to claim a double pole position amongst the International Class drivers and be on the front row of the grid for races one and three.
“Race one clearly didn’t go to-plan and race two was always going to be difficult from where I was starting, but it was a really enjoyable charge through the field and the podium might even have been on the cards if I hadn’t lost time behind a couple of cars along the way. I was really happy with both my speed and racecraft again – we just had too much to do starting second-from-last.
“We should admittedly have come away with more points, but it was definitely a boost to get my first F3 victory under my belt. To win any race at this level is tough, and many of the drivers I was up against at Silverstone had won on the international and European stages before.
“Brands Hatch and Silverstone were certainly character-building weekends, but you always learn from your mistakes and now I need to make sure I really capitalise on the experience I’ve gained. I’ve got renewed confidence heading into the upcoming meetings, beginning with European F3 at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. We’ve demonstrated that we don’t have anything to worry about in terms of our race speed, so the key will be to really nail qualifying this time – and if we can do that, there’s no reason why the podium shouldn’t be within reach.”