Jordan King has asserted that ‘we’ve got nothing to worry about pace-wise or on the racecraft front’ and that ‘the speed we have now is good enough to start winning races once everything comes together’, after claiming a brilliant and overdue podium finish in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup at Most in the Czech Republic.
Having displayed eye-catching pace indeed on his debut in the championship at Oschersleben in Germany, and having been unfortunate in the extreme not to ascend the rostrum second time out at Zandvoort in the Netherlands, Jordan King travelled to Most bidding to make it third time lucky – and he duly converted his palpable potential into the kind of result it so evidently deserved.“I really enjoyed the track,” enthused the talented young Warwickshire car racing rookie. “It’s a fun circuit to drive. It has a blend of low and medium-speed corners, which allows you to actually overtake, and every corner seems to lead onto another, meaning you can size a driver up and position yourself through one turn to get the run on them through the next. I got used to it pretty much in the first session, to be honest, and we were the quickest straightaway. The car felt really good and I was driving well, too, and after Thursday practice, we felt very confident. We were fastest by quite a margin at the end of the day, and even though the top drivers weren’t there at that point, we still had to beat all the others.”
Acknowledging that benefitting from two practice days rather than just one was a considerable boost given his complete lack of prior knowledge of the circuit, even when the big-hitters did arrive the following day, Jordan remained right up at the sharp end – and in three of the six sessions, indeed, he was the pace, with only traffic on his new tyre run at the end of Friday denying the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based speed demon the top spot on the timesheets.
The opening qualifying session would similarly be affected by traffic – as well as understeer and persistent yellow flags – scuppering Jordan’s efforts to demonstrate his true form and leaving him a frustrated fifth in the 25-strong field. Happily, in the second session, the 17-year-old BRDC Rising Star was able to ‘get on with it a bit more’ – and P2 was a much more representative position. But first, race one. “I got a good run down to the first corner, but then there was a bit of contact into turn two, which cost me several places and I fell to eighth,” he recounted. “I made one spot back to seventh before the safety car came out, and then I got another one on the re-start. We were really quick and caught the next group, and I sat behind my team-mate for a few laps. When he made a mistake, I was able to get past and then the driver ahead made a mistake as well, which moved me up to fourth. After that, there was quite a big gap ahead to third, but I kept pushing hard and set my quickest lap of the race and before long, I was right with him. With two laps to go, I went up the inside, but he tried to hang on around the outside and squeezed me onto the kerb, and there was contact…”
Another podium gone begging – the third in as many races, and again, through no fault of his own – the accident was a double whammy, as the grid positions for race three the next day were determined by the finishing positions in race one…in Jordan’s case, right the way down in 20th. In race two, however, the Princethorpe College student would be starting from the front row – in-between pace-setting, title-challenging Red Bull-backed duo Carlos Sainz Jnr and Daniil Kvyat. “My initial launch off the line was good, but then I changed up to second gear too early and the engine bogged,” he recalled. “That meant I lost out to Kvyat, but after that, our pace and racecraft were really good and I was the only one who managed to keep up with the two Red Bull guys throughout the race. The three of us were all lapping at pretty much the same speed, and I was never more than about a second-and-a-half away from the lead and seven tenths away from second, with a big gap behind to fourth place.
“They are dominating the championship, so to be the only driver from a different team to stay with them was really encouraging. The team were really pleased with that – they hadn’t had a podium in a while, and it was good to show that we can compete with Sainz and Kvyat, given all the money Red Bull are spending. MP Motorsport didn’t have half as much track time as they did over the winter, so to be right up there with them was great. I looked at the various lap times after the race, and I had been about half-a-second quicker than the drivers who finished between fourth and tenth, and anything from one-to-three seconds quicker than the rest of the field. I’m usually pretty good when it comes to overtaking, too, so I knew something could be done in race three, even from 20th.
“I got a brilliant start and made it all the way up to tenth halfway round the first lap – I kept weaving in-and-out of the traffic and going for gaps, and it all worked out perfectly. We were really rockin’, and I felt like a lot of the hard work had already been done at that point – and I wasn’t too far behind the Red Bull boys, either. Unfortunately, though, towards the end of the lap, I tried to turn into a fast corner but went straight on and onto the grass. It was down to a combination of factors, I think – low tyre temperatures, a bit of dirt on the track and I was tucked right up behind someone at the time, which causes you to lose all front-end grip – and I just went flying off the road, which cost me six or seven places. I got back on again and set about regaining ground, but then when I went to the inside of another driver, I don’t think he looked in his mirrors, because I was fully alongside and he kept turning in. I was on the kerb and I hit the brakes until I was practically stationary, but he just turned across the front of me. His rear wheel hit my front wheel and wing and he bounced off me; I was able to carry on, but the tracking on my car was bent. Overtaking is always a 50/50 thing – you have to rely on the other person giving you a bit of room, but some people unfortunately don’t seem to understand that concept…”
Despite finding himself compromised and out-of-the-fight for what could very well have been a second consecutive podium, Jordan nonetheless impressively produced the third-fastest lap time once more behind only Kvyat and Sainz – and as he looks ahead now, he does so with justifiable optimism and buoyed by his recent burgeoning form. “I was very surprised by how quick we were in race three – I hadn’t even been pushing particularly hard because of the damage,” confessed the Hugo Boss brand ambassador. “The two Red Bull guys have maybe still got a couple of tenths on us, but the speed we have now is good enough to start winning races once everything comes together. We’ve got nothing to worry about pace-wise – or on the racecraft front.
“We’re moving forward, and that’s really encouraging looking to the remainder of this season and next season as well. The results are starting to come – and if we can just have a good winter, next year we can really crack on!”