King raring to go after strong Bahrain GP2 test

British race ace Jordan King last week completed a three-day test at the Bahrain circuit in preparation for his attack on the 2015 GP2 series – the final rung on the ladder to the pinnacle of motorsport, the Formula 1 World Championship.

The 21-year-old, who will spearhead Spanish team Racing Engineering’s title charge in the ultra-competitive formula that’s been won in the past by F1 stars Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean, set headline-grabbing lap times in the #7 Dallara-built, Renault-powered machine as well as working through an extensive programme of car set-up and familiarisation ahead of his debut back at the Middle Eastern venue in just under a fortnight’s time.

King was delighted with his progress but is keeping a level head when it comes to the challenge he faces.

“As it was only my second time in the car – and my first time at the Bahrain circuit – there was a lot to take in,” he said. “It’s been very positive, because we came here with a programme to work through, including trying different tyre compounds and race-start and pitstop practice – I’ve never done pitstops in a race! – so to go quickest on a new-tyre run in the afternoon session of my first day here was great.”

Following the first three-day GP2 test at fellow F1 venue Abu Dhabi in early March, King made the most of this final opportunity to get the car to his liking before racing begins.

“I spent the first morning listening to what the team was telling me,” King admitted. “They’re the second-most successful in terms of race wins – and have won two drivers’ titles – so they know the way. The pressure was on – you have to adapt quickly to numerous conditions as there’s not much time before qualifying on race weekends to get it all together.”

Confidence boosted by his pace on the first afternoon, King used the second day for a two-pronged attack: qualifying-style runs – perfecting one-lap pace and set-up – and full-race runs, including practising those all-important pitstops.

“I used two sets of tyres on Thursday morning and was second quickest, so that was good, although I felt there was a bit more to be got out of the car,” he said. “Later in the day we did a 24-lap race run. The races are longer than I’m used to but we achieved a lot, including getting to grips with fuel-load and tyre-wear management. These are vital elements as I work towards being a more complete driver.”

Friday’s final-day programme gave King his last chance to bank as much data as possible.

“It was a similar approach to the previous day,” he said. “This time, though, I had three sets of tyres – one prime set and two [softer] option sets. I was second fastest on the prime tyre and P2 again, initially, on the option rubber. The important thing was working through all the race simulations. I did 40 laps and we tweaked the set-up a lot. Some of it worked well, some didn’t, but that’s why we go testing.”

King has now racked up of 1500km of test mileage across the two tests in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain and he’s confident he and the team can hit the ground running when the lights go out for the first race on April 18.

“I learned a lot,” was his honest appraisal. “We’ve got time to go through it all and hopefully we can fight at the front, certainly among the rookies. I need to pull it all together and I’m sure I’ll make mistakes as I improve, but I can’t wait to get going.”