Jordan King produced the finest performance of his fledgling F3 career to-date as the campaign reached half-distance at the Red Bull Ring in Austria – with a hard-earned maiden podium finish in the fiercely-contested FIA Formula 3 European Championship vaulting the talented young Warwickshire ace up to seventh in the title standings heading into the summer break.
“The Red Bull Ring is a challenging circuit that usually generates good racing,” he explained. “Its tight-and-twisty nature makes overtaking quite an art, and you have to really commit to moves if you’re going to pull them off.
“I never really clicked with it when I raced there in Formula Renault, but it’s a totally different car in F3 so I was focussed on starting again from afresh with a completely clean sheet of paper. We’ve had good speed all year and everything had been coming together bit-by-bit, so I was optimistic of being able to do battle up at the sharp end of the field.”
Lapping comfortably inside the top five during a brace of wet practice sessions, King was well aware that qualifying would be of paramount importance. In similarly inclement conditions – in which grip was at an absolute premium and it would have been only too easy to push just a fraction too hard and end up exploring the scenery – the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based hotshot duly delivered to line up fifth, ninth and fourth on the grid for the three races respectively, firmly in the ballpark for a trio of strong results.
“I got a good start to move up to fourth in race one and made an early bid to take third, but it didn’t quite come off and I was forced wide,” he recounted. “That cost me a couple of places instead, relegating me to sixth, but I soon regained the ground I had lost and re-set my sights on the driver in third.
“After biding my time for a while as I evaluated where I was stronger and he was weaker, I went for it again and we ran side-by-side through three consecutive corners. I forced him to defend into Turn Two, which allowed me to get alongside on his outside on the run down to Turn Three. We were still overlapping heading into Turn Four, but this time I had the inside line and was able to make the move stick.
“By that stage, the two leaders were a long way ahead, so I knew there was no point in taking any needless risks and once I had established a gap, I could relax a little and just concentrate on bringing it home. It was brilliant to step up onto the podium for the first time in European F3.
We should have made it the previous month at Hockenheim if it hadn’t been for a bit of bad luck, but we’ve achieved it now and it feels like another tick in the box and the latest significant milestone in my F3 career.”
Following a lively first few laps, King settled into sixth position in the weekend’s second outing in his Carlin-prepared, Volkswagen-powered Dallara single-seater. Whilst yellow flags – and subsequently a red flag that brought the race to a premature conclusion – scuppered his efforts to launch a late attack on the duo ahead fighting over fourth, the result nonetheless represented more strong points.
Race three was a not altogether dissimilar story, and after running fourth for much of the duration, the McLaren Autosport Award finalist, British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar and MSA Academy member was denied a shot at a second rostrum by more yellow flags that enabled his team-mate behind to launch an opportunistic pass.
Thereafter, King artfully fended off the championship leader all the way to the chequered flag to cap a superb weekend, as his hat-trick of top six finishes saw him more than double his previous points total to leap up the championship table from 12th into equal-seventh amongst the 31 distinctly high-calibre competitors – and leading F3 rookie to-boot.
What’s more, his excellent haul made the 19-year-old the meeting’s second-highest scorer – bringing his tally to an impressive ten points finishes from 15 starts, concretising the potential he has demonstrated from the word ‘go’ and confirming his eye-catching progression from a newcomer to a bona fide front-runner within the space of barely two months.
Justifiably proud of his and Carlin’s accomplishment, King’s hard work and assiduous approach towards his F3 apprenticeship is paying dividends. As he continues to climb the order and go from strength-to-strength, he is in positive mood ahead of the resumption of hostilities around the Norisring street circuit in Germany in mid-July.
“It was good to finally enjoy the kind of results that we’ve known we’ve been capable of from the start,” the Hugo Boss brand ambassador reflected. “I’m really happy with the pace and consistency we’re showing and I haven’t made many mistakes, and although we’ve encountered some misfortune that has cost us points, we’re increasingly challenging vastly more experienced drivers – which is tremendously encouraging. Now the trick is to maintain this upward momentum over the second half of the campaign.”