Jordan King is now fully capable of threatening the front-runners during his maiden campaign of F3 competition.
Jordan King will head into the final three rounds of the 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Championship fortified by the knowledge that he is now fully capable of threatening the front-runners during his maiden campaign of F3 competition – after twice taking the chequered flag within a whisker of the podium at the Nürburgring.
King travelled to the legendary German Grand Prix venue with an excellent previous record there, after finishing a remarkable fifth in just his second outing in the FIA Formula Two Championship in 2011 and grittily overcoming a litany of electrical issues to ascend the rostrum in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup twelve months later.
That enabled him to come out-of-the-blocks flying and lap second-fastest in the morning session – behind only the championship leader – and an equally promising fifth in the afternoon amongst the 26 fiercely high-calibre contenders, a scant tenth of a second shy of the benchmark.
Enthusiastically describing the Eifel Mountains circuit as ‘mega’ in an F3 car, King proceeded to qualify fourth, fifth and fourth respectively for the weekend’s three races – missing out on a front row starting spot by a mere hair’s breadth.
The McLaren Autosport Award finalist, British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar and MSA Academy member converted that stellar form into a brace of fourth places in the opening two encounters, seamlessly sprinting clear of the chasing pack behind and pressurising the duo ahead all the way to the flag.
Closing to within four tenths of a second of a podium finish in race one, to put King’s tremendously impressive performance into perspective, the three drivers in front of him had accounted for 14 of the season’s 19 victories to-date – and between them, boast no fewer than seven full years of prior F3 experience.
What’s more, the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based hotshot was the fastest of the top four towards the end of the race, outscored five of the seven drivers ahead of him in the standings – and, extraordinarily, left his nearest team-mate trailing to the tune of almost 20 seconds. Unfortunately, after Saturday’s two drama-free races, the finale on Sunday morning was drama-fuelled, with King exiting the action stage-left in a first corner mêlée.
“We were really quick in race one,” he recalled, “but because there wasn’t a lot to choose between the three of us fighting over second in terms of lap times, it was a bit of a stalemate as I could never quite get close enough to mount a challenge. Then in race two, we put old tyres on to save our fresh rubber for the following day; that made matters a bit tougher grip-wise and meant I had to push really hard to stay with the two guys ahead.
“In race three, I released the clutch a fraction too soon at the start and stalled, which left me right down in the midfield. Everybody then concertina-d up a lot more than I was expecting into Turn One and I tagged the driver ahead; as he spun round, the rear of his car clipped mine, which put us both out.
“The fact that there was only one other front-runner with new tyres on – and he finished second – simply rubbed salt into the wounds, but it’s all part of the learning curve and whilst it was a missed opportunity and obviously disappointing, it was the first major mistake of my F3 career and it certainly didn’t put a dampener on the weekend.”
Nor should it, as the 19-year-old Hugo Boss brand ambassador cemented his status as the series’ leading rookie, consistently proved himself to be the fastest of the Carlin quintet and gained a spot in the points table to equal-seventh, narrowing his deficit to the top six from 42.5 markers to just 18.5.
“Although I qualified better at Hockenheim and finished higher at the Red Bull Ring, taking the meeting as a whole, this was the best weekend I’ve had so far in F3 and I genuinely feel that I’ve stepped up to another level,” he concluded. “We were in the leading group throughout, comfortably inside the top five on outright pace and on the cusp of the podium in the first two races – and to have the confidence as a rookie to really take the fight to the championship protagonists is hugely encouraging.
“That’s even more the case when you consider that we will be back at the Nürburgring next month for the British F3 title showdown, and we can return full of optimism now that I have some experience of the track in an F3 car under my belt and after demonstrating such strong speed there. We need to keep working hard, push on from here and really carry this momentum forward – and hopefully that will be enough to get the job done.”