British GP2 racer Jordan King ended his sophomore season in the Formula 1 feeder series with a 13th and a 10th place finish in the Abu Dhabi finale.

Before strapping himself into the Racing Engineering Dallara V8 that he took to two wins during 2016, the 22-year-old former British Formula 3 Champion took part in Friday’s first Free Practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – aboard Manor Racing’s Manor-Mercedes MRT05. It was the second time King’s been part of the F1 programme this year, having driven the Manor in FP1 at Austin for October’s United States GP.

“It was great to be back in a Formula 1 car in Abu Dhabi,” he says. “It was a very different run-out to Austin; the team wanted to try a whole range of things.”

However, King’s number-one priority at the Yas Marina circuit in the United Arab Emirates was to protect his fifth place in the GP2 championship standings – a status he had earned thanks to wins at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone, as well as three other podium finishes during the year.

“I really needed to score points to protect my position. After qualifying 11th I told the team that I hadn’t driven particularly well – it took me a while to get back into the swing of the car after doing the F1 session! Still, I thought I would be able to make progress from there and score some useful points. I was pretty relaxed ahead of the race, knowing that I’d finished sixth there last year.”

Unfortunately, a series of problems – a dropped wheel nut during the compulsory pitstop, on top of a strategy change on the grid that didn’t work – meant King lost a lot of time during Saturday’s 31-lap feature race and dropped to 13th.

“Everything that could have gone wrong did,” King rues. “It was a bit of a nightmare – without the time lost we would’ve been sixth or seventh, which makes a big difference for the reversed sprint-race grid.

“Again, my only mindset for Sunday’s 22-lap sprint race was to score points. I got a cracking start and made progress in the traffic to get up to 10th, but only the top-eight drivers score points in the sprint race, so we missed out again.

“The car had good pace in sectors one and three, but not in sector two, which features long straights. For some reason it just didn’t pull on the straights.”

King finished seventh in the final reckoning, with 122 points – more than double his tally from his rookie season in 2015. As he explains, it was a frustrating end to a positive year.

“The end result doesn’t reflect the year as a whole. It’s been a great season in many ways – especially taking my first win in Austria and my second on home soil at the next event at Silverstone. I’ve learned a lot as a driver and been able to improve in several areas of my game.

“I’m looking forward to working hard over the winter to ensure my career trajectory continues, whether that’s in GP2 or F1 or both.”