King unrewarded but upbeat after stunning Silverstone charge

“Other drivers need what Jordan King had for breakfast!”

That’s how 2014 GP2 champion, Lotus F1 driver and TV commentator Jolyon Palmer described the superb on-track battling by British GP2 rookie Jordan King during last weekend’s double-header at his home circuit of Silverstone.

After falling victim to an overambitious move by a rival while running up the sharp end during Saturday’s 29-lap feature race, King staged a remarkable comeback from 22nd on the grid to reach the top 10 in Sunday’s 21-lap sprint race. The respected commentator continued to say: “[Jordan had] great race craft defensively yesterday [Saturday] and offensively today [Sunday].”

Looking back on the weekend with a positive but realistic outlook, the 21-year-old Racing Engineering driver said: “Silverstone would have been the ideal circuit [for me] to take away silverware and stand up on the podium; we had the race pace, overtaking skill and momentum. It’s hard to walk away from a weekend knowing you could have been up on the podium celebrating with well-earned points.”

That’s the philosophical view of the former British Formula 3 champion, who’s mid-way through his first season in the F1-feeder GP2 series, previously won by the likes of Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean.

“Qualifying was a mixed bag” contemplates King. “After a positive first stint on the first set of option (softer) tyres, we proved that we had the speed to be competitive in the leading pack.

“I came in to the pits to change the first set of tyres. The team and I decided not to make a set-up change, which, in hindsight was slightly over-confident. Looking back, I feel that if we had made a change to help the oversteer, we would’ve stayed top-five and not dropped down the order to 13th.”

King found himself starting Saturday’s race from 13th on a grid in which the top 15 drivers were separated by less than a second. Using the faster option tyres, he fought his way up to 10th within five laps, before heading to the pits to make his mandatory change to the harder prime tyres.

With seven laps left, King held seventh place, but with many of the cars in front of him still needing to pit he was effectively in third place and looking good for his maiden GP2 podium finish. With his worn rubber starting to tell, he was forced to defend from faster cars, some of which managed to get past.

On the last corner of the last lap, the #7 Racing Engineering Dallara was tipped into a race-ending spin by Frenchman Arthur Pic.

“I don’t think Arthur did it maliciously,” reflects King. “It’s just a shame that after I’d gone the whole race without any contact it happened on the last lap. I’m still pleased with our race pace, team tactics and overtaking. When I was lying third, I knew I had a lot of work to do to fend off the opposition. I’d have been happy to finish sixth from 13th, but hey – that’s racing.”

King, who started Sunday’s race from 22nd after his last-lap incident the day before, was on the prime-compound tyres, the same tyre choice as the rest of the grid (as is compulsory).

Making a superb start, he began a charge that would lead Palmer to exclaim: “The confidence Jordan has on the brakes is sensational.” After just four laps he was up to 14th, and on the fringes of the top 10 another four tours later.

As the flag fell on his home round of the championship, King netted a fighting 10th place, prompting GP2 lead commentator Alex Jacques to remark: “Absolutely magnificent [driving] from Jordan King, an absolutely superb race to come from 22nd to 10th.”

King reflected on a weekend in which fighting spirit – and some cracking on-track manoeuvres – went cruelly unrewarded. “My start was good, I was constantly attacking and although it’s frustrating that we didn’t walk away with silverware, I know we did a very good job and we’re in a good position for the next round in Hungary. I know we have the pace to challenge for the win…”

The next round of the GP2 series takes place at the Hungaroring, in Hungary, on 24-26 July.