Why Dan Ticktum Should Be in the Running For an F1 Seat
With George Russell all but confirmed for Mercedes next year, talk is flying about who will fill his seat at Williams. The names Bottas, Hulkenberg, Kvyat and Aitken are being mentioned right left and center, but little is being said about Williams development driver Dan Ticktum, except that he is thought to be out of consideration for a 2022 Formula 1 drive. If this, in fact, is true, Ticktum likely won’t ever make it to the top step of motorsport.
Written by Morgan Holiday, edited by Janvi Unni
On paper, the 22 year-old Briton Dan Ticktum is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious talents competing in the 2021 season of FIA Formula 2. Champion of 4 karting series, two time Macau Grand Prix winner, ex Red Bull Academy driver, and holder of second place in the 2018 FIA Formula 3 season. The record clearly states that Dan Ticktum is an incredibly talented driver. Even despite his lack of financial backing, the Williams junior ought to be high up on Williams’ list of replacements for Russell, and yet he supposedly isn’t even being considered. Why?
For many people, it’s hard to look past Ticktum’s history of erratic behavior, mainly the incident that got him a two year racing ban in 2015, an incident that occurred when Ticktum was only 16 years old. And yes, overtaking multiple cars under safety car conditions to deliberately crash into your rival is not a good move, nor is it something that should be overlooked. And yet, one rash moment by a teenage Dan Ticktum has become his defining moment in the eyes of many spectators. There are, on the other hand, other defining moments in Ticktum’s career that may perhaps be more suited to judge his potential as a driver.
Easily the most impressive feat on Ticktum’s resume is his multiple wins at the Macau Grand Prix. Only nine drivers have managed to take the coveted Macau victory more than once, Ticktum among them. Ticktum’s first Macau victory with Motopark in 2017 was a strange one. He qualified in 6th, and then dropped two places in the qualification race, starting the main race from 8th on the grid. During the race he made his way up to third. Going into the final lap, Sergio Sette Camara was leading Ferdinand Hasburg when the pair collided in the final corner of the race, leaving Ticktum to inherit the win, followed closely by Lando Norris and Ralf Aron.
While Ticktum’s first Macau victory could be seen as fortuitous, the following year was a different story. He qualified on pole, which he maintained in the qualification race. He went on to lead the entirety of the race and become the sixth driver to take consecutive victories at the Macau Grand Prix. The truth is that neither win at Macau was entirely luck, a fact backed up by the rest of Ticktum’s racing results. In fact, he has scored wins in almost every series he’s competed in, and has almost always challenged the top drivers in whatever category he finds himself in.
While his pace and results speak for themselves, the key quality Ticktum possesses that is important for any Formula 1 driver is confidence. Coming into the top tier of motorsport and driving alongside some of the best drivers, not just currently but of all time, isn’t something any driver can just do. It requires guts and some level of confidence in their own ability as a driver, especially considering the dangerousness of the sport. A driver has to be able to get in the car week in and week out and perform to the limit, not doubting their ability or natural talent. Especially in a car like the Williams (although with the new regulations coming in 2022, the Williams could be “like” anything), a driver has to be able to commit to pushing their way through the field.
Ticktum has proved himself a driver capable, both of incredible amounts of self confidence, and of tackling problems head on (albeit not always with the best attitude). Heading into the third round of the 2021 Formula 2 championship, Ticktum stated “I’m good everywhere, but at street circuits I normally tend to be quite strong.” This statement, while aggressively cocky, turned out to be true (although having read about his results at the Macau Grand Prix you already know that). And while Dan “I’m good everywhere” Ticktum ended up at the back of the field after lap 1 incidents in two of the three races, he inevitably made his way back up through the pack to finish in the points in both of those races.
The problem with Ticktum, from the Williams team’s standpoint, lies in his incident-packed past, his lack of financial backing, and his tendency to be rather dramatic on the team radio. Take Yuki Tsunoda for example, who clearly has pace and talent, and managed to score points on debut in Formula 1 with Alpha Tauri, but has since proved that his overly aggressive and overly excited attitude costs him dearly on the race track. But he’s certainly impressed more than his fellow rookie drivers, albeit in a better car.
While Ticktum has a track record of being somewhat belligerent both as a driver and a personality, and would bring absolutely zero financial backing to a team that most likely needs it, his talent speaks for itself and he’s the type of driver that Formula 1 needs, both from a talent and an entertainment standpoint. While Bottas, Kvyat, Hulkenberg, etc., are all names proven in Formula 1, Dan Ticktum’s name clearly deserves to be among them in the talks for a shot at the Williams seat, and it’s a shame he isn’t currently being considered.