British driver Jordan King is competing in his second season of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship with the Carlin team, and was hoping for a strong season, but circumstances have conspired against him, and eight rounds and twenty-four races in, he has still to see the chequered flag first.
King feels disappointed about how his season has materialised, as he hoped to be in with a shot of the championship. He feels his speed has been good, but his consistency has let him down more often than not. He has failed to finish four times (as well as a race in Hungary where he did not start after an engine issue), and in ten races has finished outside the top five, while he has a best finish of second, which he achieved at the Norisring and in Moscow.
“I was coming into the season looking to challenge for the championship so not being in that position can only be summed up by being disappointed,” said King to The Checkered Flag. “Very disappointing. My speed has been good, which [has been] shown by my five podiums so far, but I just haven’t picked up points in other races which makes it very annoying.”
Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium was one of those weekends where the Briton had the speed to be challenging for big points but ended up taking only three points from the three races, with three tenth place finishes. He was forced to make up positions in all three races after disappointing qualifying sessions left him way down the order at the start. He admitted after the race it was the hardest he had ever had to work to just get three points.
“I picked up a puncture in qualifying so I started last for race one, and making the wrong tyre call in Q2 made it hard to get a competitive lap time for everyone in the team which I ended up 15th,” said King. “All of the races were tough having to fight hard for everything, at Spa you can overtake but also be overtaken.
“Unfortunately I sustained a bit of damage in the races (e.g. front wing/wishbone damage) which made it harder but that’s what you get when you have to come from the back of the grid.”
Moscow saw King take a podium in race one, followed by a fifth place in race two, but saw his run ended a few laps prematurely in race three in a clash with the Mücke Motorsport machine of Austrian driver Lucas Auer, an incident that cost Auer a grid-drop penalty for the first race in Austria.
“The weekend started strongly but it was still a tough weekend having to work very hard for every hundredth,” said King. “The incident in race 3 put a dampener on which could have been a very good points haul. From my side I felt I wasn’t left enough room and the stewards took the same view which is really annoying as you never want to crash and cause damage when you can avoid it as 1) you DNF, and 2) the mechanics have to stay up all night mending the car.”
Last time out at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, King had a very disappointing weekend. A seventh place in race three his best result, and when asked what went wrong around the Austrian track, the British driver was unsure, and admitted the team needed to analyse the weekend back at the factory to see what just transpired on track.
“This is the million dollar question,” said King. “I struggled a bit for pace in qualifying and got a bit unlucky in a couple of races to not make more progress and pick up more points. This [past] week I was at the factory working with Carlin to try and find out the who’s the what’s the where’s and the why’s from the weekend [in Austria].”
King admits some progress has been made from his debut season in 2013 to this year, and feels like a win is not too far away. He hopes his bad luck when in promising positions comes to an end so he can finally take that breakthrough victory.
“Looking back to last year I only scored 2 podiums all year in Europe so having 5 to my name already shows the progress,” insisted King. “In my eyes it is just a matter of time, getting a few details together to find that last tenth to win, unfortunately when I have looked like winning we have picked up some problems like engine failures.”
King believes the European Formula 3 Championship is currently the strongest series outside of Formula 1, and showcases the best up-and-coming drivers, plus strong manufacturers. He acknowledges just how close some of the sessions can be, with hundredths and even thousandths of a second separating drivers at times.
“I think it is the strongest single seater championship outside F1 at the moment,” stated King. “It is backed by some great manufacturers (Mercedes, Volkswagen, etc), has a 30 strong field, and most of the drivers on young driver programmes are put into the series (Lotus, Ferrari, Red Bull etc). All 3 races are done off qualifying position and in qualifying normally the top 20 are separated by 1 second which makes it incredibly tough.”
King spoke about the rookie drivers taking the series by storm in 2014, most notably Esteban Ocon, Max Verstappen and Antonio Fuoco. He expected them to be quick and challenging at the front, but did not expect them to be as good as they have been.
“For sure they have been strong but I wouldn’t say it wasn’t expected,” said King. “They have worked hard over the winter and have great support around them (Lotus, Ferrari, Ex-F1 driver as a father) and are all with great teams. I would say they have done slightly better than expected but I did expect them to be at the front of the championship.”
The Carlin driver is hoping to take at least one victory in the remaining three rounds and nine races, having never previously ended a season without one. He hopes to be able to challenge for big points at the Nurburgring this weekend, plus in the two remaining rounds at Imola and Hockenheim.
“I really want a win,” insists King. “I have never had a year of racing without a win so there has to be one on the horizon soon. I’m very determined to have a strong end to the year to get some momentum going into the winter.
“Nurburgring I was very strong last year so I want to be challenging for wins there. Imola I have never been before so will have to take everything in my stride and work on the small details. As for Hockenheim I have always been fast there and would have for sure been on the front row there at the start of the year if I hadn’t had the [engine] failure.”