until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

The rookie firebrand who’s showed he’s serious about Formula E

by Sam Smith, Alice Holloway
6 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

One point from 16 races and only once progressing from the first qualifying segment would in every other racing discipline appear to be a disastrous rookie season.

But in the context of Dan Ticktum’s first campaign in Formula E with NIO 333 there was a certain expectation that it would be a challenging season for one of motorsport’s truest firebrands.

Spool back nine months and Ticktum’s career was at another crossroads. This one though really had the feel of one that was make-or-break. Either knuckle down and integrate into Formula E or become lost to the sport.

He’s firmly been in the former category but it’s not been transformative in what has made him burn so effervescently.

Ticktum acknowledges that himself, recognising that 2022 has been pretty “challenging with lots to learn” and that “being professional sometimes is not always wearing your heart on your sleeve”.

Dan Ticktum NIO 333 Formula E

“Sometimes you’ve got to keep a lid on your emotions and not be so vocal about certain things and not upset the apple kart as they say too much,” he tells The Race.

“I would say all those things have probably been, in terms of character development, the biggest things.”

This is backed up by the man who has occasionally had to absorb the frustration from Ticktum – his engineer Matt Beers.

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

“He’s very passionate, very emotional and that does come across obviously sometimes,” Beers tells The Race.

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

“It doesn’t bother me when he gets agitated, I get the frustration, I understand it.

“We all get frustrated and deal with it in our own ways. I can see how it might upset other people in some circumstances but I think it’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 it’s fine.”

Dan Ticktum NIO 333 Formula E

The limitations on what Ticktum could achieve this season were obvious from the start. NIO 333 was effectively still completing its transition into a team with new owners and a car, the NIO 333 02, that was set in homologation and could only be improved via a combination of streamlined processes, enhanced software development and some clever strategies in races.

Ticktum should have come away with more than a point in Rome but it was his team-mate Oliver Turvey that took the headlines with his energy gambling effort for a sensational seventh.

Over the course of the season Ticktum had the upper hand on his more experienced team-mate and ended it with a 9-7 qualifying ‘win’ and an outrageous lap in the finale in Seoul that allowed him to start a brilliant seventh on the grid.

All this came after he jumped into the deep end at Valencia last November for a few scrabbly test days before missing the final one as he had to head to Abu Dhabi to draw the curtain on his F2 career.

It was a tough mission.

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

“I feel like overall I’ve adapted pretty quickly and matched or at least been as good as my team-mate if not better. He’s got a lot of experience so I think overall it’s been positive.

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

“I just think the fact that most of my career I have been in some cars and karts that haven’t been able to win races before, so I’m not completely foreign to it but certainly in the last few years, in F2 or whatever, your aim is always a podium or a win.

Dan Ticktum F2

“Whereas here it’s points and most of the time you don’t even get close to that.

“It’s been tough and I’ve struggled with it mentally if I’m honest, especially the first half of the season.”

Ticktum’s inherent burn to win, which plainly can spill over when the adrenaline flows, definitely won’t change. But there are signs that he will form a scavenge channel for it to be used in a more positive way.

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

“He’s a very intelligent driver, an intelligent guy, so he got straight into the car, it’s taken him a little while to get his head fully around it and fully up to speed but it was definitely a lot easier than I expected it to be,” says Beers.

“He’s a quick driver and he’s very quick to adapt so I think he gets used to the circuit, obvious we do the sim sessions, he learns the track there, but there’s still a bit of learning for him to do.

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

“I would imagine that will be the case next year. We’ll see how things pan out.”

Ticktum looks set to continue what he’s started at NIO 333 for 2023 in what will be the feistiest line-up on the grid with anticipated new recruit Sergio Sette Camara.

Should that be the case Ticktum appears ready and eager to get his hands on the quicker and more traditionally single-seater product that Gen3 will deliver. It could prove to be a revelatory cocktail for him should NIO 333 and its Integral Powertrain- and XTRAC-flavoured package be competitive.

NIO 333 Gen3 Formula E

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

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

He said that his first test will come in “a couple of weeks’ time” and that he was “really looking forward” to what he expects will be “a really interesting race car”.

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

All of that could become a metaphorical weight off Ticktum’s mind too, if he can free up his inherent talent in Formula E and get some momentum in a career that still offers so much potential.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks