King battles hard in Baku

It was an encouraging weekend in Baku for Jordan King, who came agonisingly close to a podium finish but still leaves with points to his name and 9th position in the Drivers’ Standings.

Baku Street Circuit, the newest circuit on the calendar, was the venue for one of the most dramatic weekends in the series’ history in 2016, and with the expectation just as high this, the weekend did not disappoint.

Jordan entered the weekend looking to extend his six-race scoring streak that had placed him seventh in the Drivers’ Standings heading to the capital of Azerbaijan.

Jordan, who finished last year’s races in 4th and 12th position, started the weekend strongly as free practice finished with him placed up in second place with a time of 1:54.308 – just +0.121 off the sessions’ fastest man Nyck De Vries.

Jordan, looking to convert his free practice pace into a good qualifying result, had a difficult qualifying session around the streets of Baku as three red flags interrupted the day’s session. With all twenty drivers trying to find space for a fast lap, Jordan couldn’t seem to find enough room to post the lap that he was capable of. His fastest time of 1:54.295 was only enough to put him in 15th position for Saturday’s Feature Race.

Feature Race

Starting in 15th place and knowing he had the pace to move forward, Jordan’s feature race got off to a frantic start as soon as the lights went. Firstly, having to avoid the stalled car of Johnny Cecotto, Jordan swept round the outside as the field funnelled down into turn one.

Battling hard with a number of drivers on the tight Baku streets, Jordan was having to fight a number of cars from a number of angles as the drama headed down towards the Old City. A textbook move from Jordan down the inside of Robert Visoiu was just one of the moves that saw the 23-year old cross the line for lap one four positions better off in 11th place.

Lap three saw the first of the day’s safety cars brought out to recover the car of Johnny Cecotto, who found the wall at turn two. With the race leader Leclerc backing the pack up enormously, Jordan came under pressure but fought hard to maintain his 11th place at the restart.

On lap five, Jordan launched his attack on Sean Gelael, taking the position from the Indonesian driver, repeating the move that saw him get past Visoiu on lap one – promoting himself into the points in 10th. Jordan then had to go on the defensive to keep Gelael at bay as Jordan found himself between the teammates of Nato and Gelael. Escaping the clutches of Gelael, Jordan then began hustling Nato as the two scrapped for 9th place.

Pitting at the end of lap six and as one of the first stoppers, Jordan rejoined the action in 18th place as the fight with Nato continued. Getting a good run down the 1.4-mile-long straight, Jordan was right on the tail of Nato and at the final moment, stepped out of the slipstream and took to the outside as Nato took to the inside. Looking like he had the momentum, Jordan was alongside Nato when the Frenchman aggressively squeezed Jordan off the track and towards the Tecpro barrier– forcing Jordan to lift off the power and tuck in behind Nato.

A virtual safety car, followed shortly by a second full safety car – called into action when Louis Deletraz smashed into the wall at Turn 2 – again saw the field bunch up.

A second manic safety car restart saw Jordan again battle hard with the cars around him but his great defensive driving saw him safely secure his tenth place until he passed the slow-moving Luca Ghiotto who was yet to pit, promoting himself into 9th place. Another overtake, this time on Sergio Canamasas, lifted Jordan into 8th place as the race entered its final stages.

Lap 19 saw Matsushita lock up and run wide at turn one, gifting Jordan 7th place just before Sean Gelael found the wall at the tight turn eight; this resulted in the race being red flagged and ending a dramatic first race in Baku.

Post-race, Oliver Rowland was handed a 10-second time penalty; this resulted in Jordan being promoted to 6th place and meant he would start Sunday’s Feature Race from the second row in 3rd place.

Sprint Race

Starting in third place, Jordan initially got off the line well and maintained his position heading down into turn one. Being pushed wide, Jordan had to lift off to avoid contact and this resulted in a loss of momentum heading down into the second corner. Being on the back foot, Jordan dropped back to 5thplace as the race unfolded through the first few corners.

Losing a couple more positions to 7th place, the pace of his MP Motorsport car began to come to life and his resurgence began. Another confident move from Jordan saw him get past the polesitter Ralph Boschung as he moved up the order into 6th place.

As Rowland and De Vries retired from the race, Jordan was running in the final podium position when championship leader Charles Leclerc arrived on his tail. What followed was an excellent display of defensive driving from Jordan, which looked like the sternest test Leclerc had had all weekend, but was unable to keep the DRS assisted Leclerc at bay down the long straight.

Crossing the finishing line in 4th place and keeping his scoring streak from the start of the season alive, Jordan was later disqualified by the officials after it was discovered that all four of his Pirelli’s were below the minimum tyre pressure required. A devastating end to the weekend for Jordan who had fought so hard to come home in 4th place.

Jordan reflected on a hard fought weekend in Azerbaijan.

“All in all it was a good weekend despite losing my result in the sprint race. The feature race was great fun making my way through the field on this really entertaining track. The sprint race was a hard fought race and I was really pushing the car to its limit. It would of been nice to keep my scoring streak alive but we can go to Austria and make amends.”

Now 9th in the championship with 37 points, next up for Jordan is a trip to Austria and the Red Bull Ring for round five of the 2017 FIA Formula 2 season.

#15 Jordan King

Free Practice: 2nd (1:54.308, +0.121)

Qualifying: 15th (1:54.295, +2.166)

Feature Race: 6th

Sprint Race: DSQ