Motorsport PR:

British driver Jordan King last weekend returned to Bahrain for the penultimate round of the Formula 1 World Championship-supporting GP2 Series and came away from the Gulf kingdom happy with his pace and with points to show for it.

The 21-year-old GP2 rookie, who recently won the FIA Institute’s Young Driver of the Year Award, took his Racing Engineering Dallara-Renault to a pair of top-10 finishes at the Sakhir circuit.

“It was great to be back in Bahrain,” King says. “I had less to learn as we’ve raced there before, but I guess that leads to higher expectation.”

An electrical issue in practice reduced the number of familiarisation laps the team could do, but King was confident ahead of the qualifying session that sets the grid for the 32-lap Saturday Feature race.

“I knew we were pretty much there,” the Warwickshire racer says. “The team and I felt we’d done a good job to be fifth – just 0.3s from pole position.

“My pace was good in the race,” King admits. “The only thing that was disappointing was that my engineer and I thought the [softer and faster] option tyre wouldn’t last the distance once we’d made our [compulsory] pitstop, so we stayed out on the [harder] prime rubber. That cost us quite a few places, as the option tyre did last quite well in the end.”

Ultimately, King finished ninth after a spirited late-race battle with fellow Brit Alex Lynn, who was awarded pole for the reversed-grid Sunday Sprint race by virtue of finishing eighth.

“The second race on the Sunday was good fun,” King reflects. “I was hoping for no safety-car periods so I could get stuck in for the 23 laps on the prime tyre. It was a bit harder from ninth on the grid than if I’d been in the mix up front, but I made a cracking start, only to have to run wide to avoid some Turn 1 contact. Sadly, that dropped me down to 19th, but I got my head down and worked my way back up.”

During the last third of the race, King set a blistering pace, overtaking plenty of his rivals as he chased down a strong finish.

“My engineer was telling me over the radio that I was quicker than anyone, which is great to hear – and spurs you on!”

King took a decent haul of points for finishing sixth, although he reckons a few more laps and his pace meant he could have stood on the podium.

“I was only half a second behind the fifth-placed car and third was only four seconds further ahead, so we weren’t far off at all.

“I was pleased with my pace and racecraft, too,” King admits. “It was just a bit frustrating with the tyres in race one and getting shuffled back at the start in race two. That’s racing and I’m looking forward to the finale in Abu Dhabi this weekend.”

The final round of the GP2 Series takes place at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on November 28-29.

Laura Simpson


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