An interview with Jordan King

Credit: Malcolm Griffiths

British Formula 1 hopeful and Formula 2 race winner Jordan King took time to speak to Essaar about his season so far, including settling in with a new a team and trying to break into F1.

2017 sees Jordan King switch from two years at Racing Engineering to MP Motorsport.

“It’s different, it has come full circle from my time with them in Formula Renault.  It is a strange feeling switching teams, a bit like moving house. It’s been positive so far and I get on well with the team.”

Despite no podium in the first two rounds Jordan is still confident.

“I’m defiantly looking for wins, we should have been on podium in Spain. I don’t see it being a problem just a case of things falling into place.”

© 2017 Sebastiaan Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency

Jordan was a development driver for the Manor Racing but lost that position following the team’s demise.

“It was annoying, but these things happen. There is lot more to getting an F1 drive than just driving a race car. It was frustrating that my best chance fell away. I can’t take away what I got from the team, it was the closest I got to driving in a Grand Prix. I just have to put my energy into finding something else.”

Despite Manor’s closure Jordan found the experience invaluable.

“I’ve done five days in an F1 car, if I do it again I’ll be more comfortable and feel I’m ready to do it. I was honoured to work with the Manor guys, they relied on me and what I had to say, I probably learnt more than if I was thrust into a young driver program, because I was doing a job for the team.”

Manor gave Jordan his first experience of driving an F1 car at a Grand Prix weekend when he took part in first practice at the Circuit of the Americas in 2016.

“There was a ‘wow’ moment of knowing I had come a long way in my racing career. It hit home when I walked into the garage and the cameras were right in my face but when the helmet was on and I was in the zone it was a case of ‘Ok, I’ve got a job to do’, it felt natural. There was a point in the pits when Vettel came past in a Ferrari and I though ‘Ok this is pretty cool’ but I wasn’t in awe or overwhelmed. The nicest part was being able to reflect on what I had done afterwards.”

The experience has made Jordan more determined than ever to crack F1.

“I have always wanted to get to F1, getting close makes me want it even more. I have the passes from that weekend (at COTA) framed on my wall. Its the best souvenir from my race career, it feels like the biggest achievement.”

Landing a drive in F1 is becoming increasingly difficult as Jordan explains.

“The driver market is tough, I was in a fortunate position with Manor because they wanted me, there was no financial gain. The young drivers market has people with big budgets, development drivers with big budgets. I am trying everything I can at the moment.”

If not F1 then still a career as a driver?

“I can see myself making a good career driving something else. I want to do something I can believe in, engage in and enjoy. I would need a project to stimulate me personally.”

The juniors single seater ladder is currently going through some changes to try and set a clear path from national series to F1.

“The bottom of the sport you want to be as wide and accessible as possible, look at football, the base of triangle is so large and it’s successful because of that. Having F1 at the top is great but that is getting smaller with just 10 teams. I can see what the FIA are trying to do, but look at other sports, they are so easy to get into and that idea you don’t have in F1. It’s great to have good structure and a clear path as it will give people an idea of what exactly they have to do to reach F1 but it will come with its own challenges.”

© 2017 Sebastiaan Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency

Any driver who wants a drive in F1 has to obtain a super license scored on set number of points allocated to finishing position of recognised championships.

“I think it’s a mistake. Because you have a period of drivers at the top of the licence pyramid, who have these rules put upon them. There is a 3-4 year generation where the licensing have hindered them. There will be a lot of drivers who will have said ‘well I would have done a different championship’. Also motorsport is a case of the not just the best driver. You can get a puncture of a blown engine and that can affect you whole career there needs to be more discretion. You can see why they brought it in but if you look at the current grid, many wouldn’t be on it with the current super licence including (Max) Verstappen, (Fernando) Alonso and (Kimi) Raikkonen.”

One of the F2 calendars toughest tracks comes next when the championship visits Monaco.

“I wouldn’t say it is the toughest race, toughest in sense there is no margin for error, but as street circuits go its smooth and you can cut chicanes if you make an error. Pau or Macau are real street circuits, bumpy with every mistake will be a crash. I found Malaysia last year tougher because of the heat.”

As a previous winner at Silverstone in F2, Jordan will be looking forward to returning later on the year.

“I won there last year which was massive for me and showed how far I had come. I had many sponsors with guests there. There were thousands of fans there for the race, I know they were for Lewis (Hamilton) and Jenson (Button) mainly but it was still special.”

F1’s new owners are already making waves so what track would Jordan like to see return?

“I would like a return to India, it’s a very good circuit and with a population 1.5 billion it’s a good market to try and crack. I raced in the MRF series and enjoyed it. I think as half the calendar is in Europe anywhere else is an untapped market. It depends which country wants it but the potential is there.”