RACING

The fiery rookie who showed he was serious about Formula E

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A point from 16 races and a single progression from the first qualifying segment would seem in all other racing disciplines to be a disastrous rookie season.

But against the backdrop of Dan Ticktum’s debut campaign in Formula E with NIO 333, it was expected to be a difficult season for one of motorsport’s hottest brands.

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Step back nine months and Ticktum’s career was at another crossroads. This one really felt like it was decisive. Either buckle down and fit into Formula E or lose yourself in the sport.

He was firmly in the first category, but that didn’t transform what made him burn so effervescently.

Ticktum acknowledges this himself, acknowledging that 2022 has been quite “difficult with a lot to learn” and that “being professional sometimes doesn’t always have your heart on your sleeve”.

“Sometimes you have to keep your emotions in check and not be so talkative about certain things and not upset the Apple kart like they say too much,” he told The Race.

“I would say all of those things were probably, in terms of character development, the most important things.”

This is supported by the man who sometimes had to absorb Ticktum’s frustration – his engineer Matt Beers.

Beers, too, is new to Formula E but has one of the calmest and most placid natures when in contact with his charge on the radio. The juxtaposition between the two was initially fun when the frustration boiled over, but as the season progressed, it seemed to work.

“He’s very passionate, very emotional and it obviously shows at times,” Beers told The Race.

“He wears his heart on his sleeve, he says what he thinks.

“I don’t mind when he gets agitated, I feel frustration, I understand that.

“We are all frustrated and we are dealing with it in our own way. I can see how it might bother other people in certain circumstances, but I think that’s just his release mechanism.

“It’s just what we have to work with, like I say, it doesn’t really affect how I do my job or how we work together, so that’s fine.”

Dan Ticktum NIO 333 Formula E

The limits of what Ticktum could achieve this season were obvious from the start. NIO 333 was effectively completing its transition to a team with new owners and a car, the NIO 333 02, which was homologated and could only be improved through a combination of streamlined processes, improved software development and smart racing strategies.

Ticktum should have scored more than a point in Roma, but it was team-mate Oliver Turvey who grabbed the headlines with his energetic playing effort for a sensational seventh.

Over the course of the season, Ticktum got the better of his more experienced teammate and ended it with a 9-7 qualifying ‘victory’ and an outrageous turn in the final in Seoul that started him a brilliant seventh. on the grid. .

It all came after he jumped into the deep end at Valencia last November for a few lousy test days before missing the last one as he was due to travel to Abu Dhabi to draw the curtain on his F2 career.

It was a difficult mission.

“Obviously with all the freewheeling and regen it’s very different,” he says.

“I feel like overall I adapted pretty quickly and I was equal or at least as good as my team-mate if not better. He has a lot of experience so I think in the together it was positive.

“But the fact that he’s been there for what, six, seven seasons [actually seven and a half], I’ve never been to any of the tracks before, never really driven the car; I did a day and a half of testing in Valencia, so overall I can say I’m pretty happy with it.

“I just think the fact that most of my career I’ve been in cars and karts that haven’t been able to win races before, so I’m not a complete stranger to that, but certainly in recent years, in F2 or whatever, your goal is always a podium or a win.

Dan Ticktum F2

“Whereas here it’s dots and most of the time you don’t even come close.

“It was tough and I struggled mentally to be honest, especially the first half of the season.”

Ticktum’s inherent burning to win, which can obviously boil over when the adrenaline is flowing, certainly won’t change. But there are signs that it will form a recovery channel to be used in a more positive way.

The perception of him is that he doesn’t think enough about his race or the application needed for it. That, if you listen to his relatives at the racetrack, is a misnomer.

“He’s a very smart driver, a smart guy, so he got straight into the car, it took him a bit of time to fully understand and get up to speed, but it was definitely a lot easier than this at what I expected,” explains Beers.

“He’s a fast driver and he adapts very quickly, so I think he gets used to the circuit, obviously we do the simulation sessions, he learns the track there, but he still has a little bit left. learning to do.

“I like working with Dan, it can get quite emotional, there are ups and downs but for me it has been good.

“I imagine that will be the case next year. We will see how things go.

Ticktum looks set to continue what he started at NIO 333 for 2023 in what will be the most spirited line-up on the grid with expected new signing Sergio Sette Camara.

If so, Ticktum seems ready and eager to get their hands on the faster, more traditional single-seater product that Gen3 will provide. It could prove to be a tell-all cocktail for him if NIO 333 and its integral powertrain and XTRAC flavored package were competitive.

NIO 333 Gen3 Formula E

Ticktum is expected to see the second season option of his deal with NIO 333 and told Seoul earlier this month that he was on “a two-year deal, so hopefully I’ll be here next year. , we’ll see. I should be here, yes.

He is due to drive the manufacturer’s NIO 333 test and development car in the UK this month before heading to Italy for a group session in September.

He said his first test will be in “a few weeks” and he was “really looking forward” to what he hopes will be “a really interesting race car”.

“More power is going to be good, a bit lighter too, so I think we’ll notice the weight, it’s a big thing as a driver, to notice when the car is lighter,” he added. .

It could all become metaphorical weight in Ticktum’s mind, too, if he can unleash his inherent Formula E talent and gain some momentum in a career that still holds so much potential.

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