Talented young Warwickshire car racing rookie Jordan King has crowned his maiden single-seater campaign with what he justifiably described as his finest achievement to-date – by clinching the MRF Formula Championship laurels in front of all the key F1 movers-and-shakers over the weekend of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix.
Having competed in the Formula Renault UK Championship, Formula Renault Northern European Cup and FIA Formula Two Championship in 2011, Jordan headed to the Buddh International Circuit at Greater Noida close to Delhi preparing to test his mettle in yet another different series – and up against some 19 rivals of a very high calibre indeed.
“The competition was pretty tough,” affirmed the Stoneleigh-based speed demon. “It was a strong grid and there were quite a few international drivers there, as well as of course locals – and it’s a mega circuit! It’s quite tight but also fast with an average speed of almost 100mph, and another good thing was that because it was a brand new track, everybody went into it completely blind – and being a quick learner, even though we only had ten laps in practice, that was pretty much all I needed to get to grips with it.”
With the F1 support bill representing such a tremendous shop window for Jordan to showcase his palpable potential, the 17-year-old BRDC Rising Star entered the meeting fired-up in the extreme – but with the prestige of the event, he acknowledged, so too came a hefty dose of pressure...
“I think I put myself under quite a lot of pressure, because I wanted to win so much to end the season on a real high,” he confessed. “The atmosphere was just amazing; there was a really big crowd there to watch the grand prix, and a huge amount of media interest with it being the first F1 race in India. The journalists didn’t ask me a lot of questions ahead of the weekend, though; I don’t think anybody really expected me to be the quickest, and I was quite happy to stay under the radar and then surprise them all.”
Despite dominating most of qualifying in his Team Sidvin car – and getting faster by the minute – Jordan’s bid was unfortunately dashed by traffic, an errant adversary and a red flag. In the circumstances, third and second places on the grid marked a superb effort in damage limitation, but still he reflected that he was ‘so annoyed after the session, because I knew we could have gone so much quicker – we weren’t on pole position, which is where we wanted to be and should have been!’ He would channel that frustration into magnificent form come race day.
“I got a really good launch off the line at the start of race one to move immediately up into second,” he recalled, “but then I got lunged into the first corner and had to run out wide to avoid a crash. That left me compromised and on the outside line going up the hill, and I dropped down to fourth.
“I regained second by the end of lap three, but by then the gap ahead to the leader was too large to close. I still kept pushing and set fastest lap, but in hindsight, I should probably have held my nerve a bit more at the start. I was happy enough with the result, though, as it meant that if I won the following day, I would be champion no matter what.”
In the second encounter, Jordan artfully rebuffed an early challenge from behind before switching his attentions towards attacking Australian V8 Supercar star and reigning Bathurst 1000 Champion Nick Percat for the lead. After the pair had exchanged positions once, the Princethorpe College student dived to the inside and had the move made, but with Percat refusing to concede and squeezing him onto the kerb, contact was inevitable – and it was the Australian that came off worse.
Albeit briefly slipping down to second after that, once the situation had stabilised itself again, Jordan produced a neat manoeuvre to duly reclaim the advantage – and with it, brilliantly triumph in both the battle and the war.
“It was almost the perfect weekend all-in-all, and definitely the best possible way to end the season,” enthused the Hugo Boss brand ambassador. “It could barely have gone any better. Given the occasion and the fact that the opposition was of as high a standard as I’ve been facing all year, it was probably my best achievement in cars so far.”
And as he made the most of his free time in India to soak up the F1 atmosphere and establish some useful connections, it is entirely feasible that Jordan King will return in future years – only next time, racing rather further up the motorsport ladder.