Jordan King laid down an early marker as he made his track debut for Racing Engineering in the first GP2 Series pre-season group test in Abu Dhabi, covering more than 160 laps and threatening the championship’s experienced front-runners in the process.
King is dovetailing his GP2 racing commitments this year with his recently announced development driver role for Manor F1, and he headed for the Yas Marina Circuit - home to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - keen to get more miles under his belt following an eyecatching test outing there in the Formula 1 support series last November.
Over the course of three busy and productive days behind the wheel - and with the full 2015 field in attendance - the talented young Harbury ace conducted qualifying runs and race simulations, pit-stop drills and practice starts as he got to grips with the set-up of his new Dallara-Mecachrome chassis, Pirelli tyres and the Formula 1-style DRS (Drag Reduction System), which is a new addition to the grand prix feeder category this season.
The 21-year-old encountered niggling throttle issues on two of the days, but he nonetheless impressed by concluding half of the sessions inside the top ten in the pecking order, notably winding up an excellent fifth-fastest on the opening afternoon, less than four tenths-of-a-second adrift of the leading pace.
Twice King topped the timesheets outright in Abu Dhabi and he reflected afterwards that it had been an extremely promising start to the next phase of his single-seater career.
“I’ve settled into the team really well,” said King.
“I’ve already established a good relationship with everybody at Racing Engineering and I’m working well with my race engineer - it all feels really comfortable.
“We still have a lot more to learn about each other, of course, but we’re off to a great start.”
One more official test remains before the 2015 GP2 Series campaign revs into life in Bahrain at the end of April and King said Abu Dhabi has given him a fantastic platform from which to progress.
“I’m well aware that I’ve got a big learning curve ahead of me, but Racing Engineering is one of the most consistently successful teams in GP2 history, so there’s no question that I have the right people around me to perform and Abu Dhabi represented a very positive first step.
“We covered most of the bases and ticked a lot of boxes, so hopefully we can pick up from where we left off when we get to the next test - we certainly have a very solid base now to work from.
“It’s going to be a very tough year, there’s no doubt about that, with some big names all the way up-and-down the field.
“That means that if you’re just half-a-second off the pace, you’re likely to find yourself outside of the top ten - but I’m definitely up for the fight.”