Disappointment turns to delight for King in Azerbaijan
Jordan King left Azerbaijan and the all-new Baku street circuit buoyed by a strong fourth-place finish in the weekend's second GP2 race, just a few seconds adrift of what would have been a second podium finish of the year.
The 22-year-old Harbury driver, contesting his second season with the Racing Engineering team, put the disappointment of a team strategy blunder in the opening race behind him for a charge up the order in Sunday morning’s sprint race.
“The first race was frustrating,” said King. “The team admitted the mistake over exactly when to make our compulsory pitstop, but we bounced back well in race two.”
The all-new Baku street circuit presented all sorts of challenges for drivers and teams as they acclimatised to the layout and tried to make best use of their pre-weekend simulation work.
“It’s a very challenging place,” King admitted. “We had to run the car in low-downforce trim because of the 2km-long straight, which made it more tricky to perfect braking areas and made tyre-management more crucial.
“And there was a lot of dust and rubbish on the surface that needed clearing.
“That said, I enjoy getting to grips with new circuits - and Baku’s certainly an interesting one.
“I felt I learned it well and gathered as much data as possible. I’m sure that stood me in good stead for race two.”
King qualified 11th for Saturday’s 26-lap feature race but reckons there was more to come.
“I was matching [team-mate] Norman [Nato] but he got a great tow down the straight to edge clear. There was definitely more to come.”
Come raceday, King was in combative move, until the unfortunate timing of the safety car.
“The safety-car intervention spoiled our race and led to the miscall over the pitstop,” King rued.
“It was such a shame as I was running sixth with a good result on the cards.”
The 21-lap sprint race, in which no pitstops are made, allowed King to bring his experience and speed to bear.
“That was great,” he says. “I kept out of trouble while it was all kicking off around me and got up to fourth - from 12th on the grid.
“It was a case of finding that crucial balance of bravery and safety.
“The leading trio - Antonio Giovinazzi, Pierre Gasly and Sergey Sirotkin - were running together up the road but in the last five laps I was running a second a lap quicker than them and managed to catch up.
“If only the race had been a few laps longer…
“It was a satisfying end to the weekend and a different set of emotions from the day before.
I’m looking forward to carrying the momentum to the Red Bull Ring next time out.”
The next round of the GP2 Series takes place at the Austrian Red Bull Ring on July 2 and 3.