Jordan King admits that whilst he has inevitably had some big-pressure moments during his fledgling career to-date, in November he will face his sternest test yetafter being selected as a finalist for the coveted McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award.
King is currently vying for title glory in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup with Manor MP Motorsport, and in what is only his second full campaign of car racing competition after shining on both the national and international karting stages, the gifted Warwickshire ace has also claimed a podium finish in the keenly-contested Formula Renault Eurocup, by common consent the toughest junior single-seater championship around.
In recognition of his talent and potential, the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based speed demon has been invited to participate in a six-driver shoot-out at Silverstone, where he and his fellow first-time McLaren AUTOSPORT finalists will be pitched against one another in a trio of cars representing the sports three principal disciplinessingle-seaters, tin-tops and endurance.
The sextet will be assessed by a panel of expert judges including ex-grand prix star and current British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) president Derek Warwick, two-time British Touring Car Champion Jason Plato, DTM front-runner and former award-winner Jamie Green, McLaren head of vehicle engineering Mark Williams, circuit commentator Ian Titchmarsh and AUTOSPORT journalists Kevin Turner and Marcus Pye. King acknowledges that it is a major honour to have been chosen.
When I got the phone call, I was a bit shocked, to be honest, he candidly confessed. Ive obviously known about the award and the prestige attached to it since I first began racing in karts, and so many of the drivers who have won it and been finalists are now big names within the sport. I never dreamed that I would be a finalist myself, thoughits amazing and all a little bit surreal, to tell the truth. Im really excited just to have the chance to drive such awesome carsIve never driven any racecar with a roof over my head before!
The winner will be revealed at the glittering AUTOSPORT Awards ceremony in London at the beginning of December, and will receive 100,000, a McLaren-Mercedes F1 test, full BRDC membership and a TW Steel watch. Previous recipients of the accolade include 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button, 13-time grand prix-winner David Coulthard, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti and sportscar racer Anthony Davidson.
The 2012 finalists will be evaluated on a variety of criteria, from on-track pace and prowess to physical aptitude, mental approach, media skills and presentation both in and out of the cockpit. Although he was a comparative latecomer to the sportnot donning a race suit until the age of 11King has made tremendous progress over the intervening seven years, and whilst he is well aware that he cannot afford to give anything away to his five ultra-competitive adversaries, he is quietly confident that he will have nothing to fear.
Ive obviously had some big-pressure days during my career so far, but this will unquestionably be the biggest yet, because its the opportunity of a lifetime and the prize is just phenomenal, reflects the 18-year-old BRDC Rising Star, MSA Academy member and Hugo Boss brand ambassador. To drive the McLaren-Mercedes F1 car would be simply incredible.
I may not have been racing for as long as most of the other finalists havethe majority of them were barely out of nappies when they started and consequently have a lot more experience than I dobut Ive beaten each of them at some point in my career, so I feel comfortable in my ability.
Fiercely ambitious as ever, he adds: Being picked as a finalist is an achievement all in itself, but its only half the job. Now its up to me to grab this with both hands and really make the most of it.