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Opinion: What Dan Ticktum will bring to Formula E

by Formula Scout
The two-time Macau Grand Prix winner has secured his racing future with the NIO 333 Formula E team

The future wasn’t looking particularly encouraging for Dan Ticktum this summer. An embarrassing incident caught on camera led to an early departure from the Williams Formula 1 team and even put his Formula 2 seat at risk.

Thankfully for the 22-year-old the budget has remained in place to see out the F2 season with Carlin, a team he has also been driver coaching for through 2021. But with his F1 dreams extinguished, being unable to make the grid on sponsorship value alone and with his previous exit from the Red Bull Junior Team always looming over him, it made 2022 look very uncertain.

After some prolonged negotiations, it was then finally confirmed this Wednesday (November 25) that Ticktum would join the NIO 333 team for the 2021-22 Formula E season and would be team-mate to McLaren simulator driver Oliver Turvey.

The Formula Scout newsdesk, like many others, had some immediate opinions on the driver who completes FE’s 2022 grid:

Ida Wood (@wood_ida_)

There are some drivers who you’re never going to fully understand how they tick until you’re with them at a race track, and you see them interact with their team. That’s when the likes of Ticktum stand out.

His technical feedback is incredible, and he communicates it very clearly which is why he’s of value as a driver coach now too, a great liaison to have between engineer and driver. Despite all that understanding, the reluctance to change himself in the car was actually his greatest flaw as it prevented him from fulfilling his potential in Super Formula and initially in F2. Had he not let ego get in the way at that level, it would have helped weather other, more public, storms.

That flaw changed in 2021, with a bit of adaptation behind the wheel leading to his qualifying form drastically improving.

Ticktum’s street circuit form
Circuit Categories Best result Starts Best qualifying
Monaco F2, FR2.0 1 win (F2) 5 2x 4th (F2, FR2.0)
Sochi F2 1 win 4 1x 10th
Baku F2 1x 2nd 3 1x 5th
Macau F3 3 wins 8 1 pole
Norisring F3 1 win 3 1x 3rd
Pau F3, FR2.0 1x 3rd (F3) 5 1 pole (F3)

The racecraft hasn’t been as clean as in previous years, but it’s in the ballpark where particularly for FE he would know how to force a move from another driver. And Ticktum fears no one, so as long as that approach is kept under control then it will likely be how NIO’s points are earned if its car is off the pace.

Ticktum will bring a lot of fans, and detractors, to FE. As long as he’s sensible in his road car and his race car, then he’ll probably be on course for more of the former and another professional racing opportunity in 2023.

Bethonie Wareing (@bethonieboost)

FE probably wasn’t Dan’s first choice of drive for 2022, but in all honesty I think he can do well in the series. He’s an extremely talented driver, with a speciality for street circuits, and will be an exciting driver to watch.

We’ll need to hold judgement on how well NIO will fair until the upcoming pre-season test and the first race early next year, but if the past six seasons is anything to go by he’s probably not going to be fighting for wins in 2022. But Oliver Turvey has shown the car can get points, so having two extremely qualified drivers in the car should be a real boost for the team and take them into a fight with (the often struggling) Dragon Racing.

I have no qualms with Ticktum being able to perform on track, it’s just off track that I worry about. What NIO really needs is a steady driver in its second seat, which it has never really had. Putting an end to this rotation and having someone really work with Turvey on developing the car is key. Patience has not been Ticktum’s strongest point so far, and it will be interesting to see if he does stick around beyond 2022 to work on this project.

Craig Woollard (@craig_woollard)

This is exactly the sort of signing that FE needed, but not everybody will have wanted it. NIO has, in terms of raw talent and prowess on a street circuit, claimed a massive coup in Ticktum here, partnering him against one of FE’s understated greats.

The championship has lacked some real character bite recently, and Ticktum will unquestionably provide exactly that. How the polar opposites fair at the team will be fascinating to watch.

How he will fare, however, will depend on a number of factors. I am not yet convinced, having overlooked much of his time in F2 from a social distance, that he has the correct aptitude and work ethic away from the circuit to extract the absolute most out of himself and his machinery at a world championship level. I look forward to being proved wrong, though.

I don’t want him to become a robot (and I very highly doubt he ever will), but he will have to make a noticeable step in his conduct from what we’ve seen in recent years.

Peter Allen (@peteallen_)

It’s good to see Ticktum pursuing a professional racing career away from F1 – something he’s not always seemed enthusiastic about – but it’s a surprise that his first move is to FE. Not because he’s not a good enough driver: His natural talent and past street circuit success marks him out as someone who could master the unique demands of FE behind the wheel.

But, to the outside at least, it can feel as though being an FE driver is as much about being good at PR as it is being a good driver. Perhaps Ticktum could be a much-needed disruptor in that sense, with something of a wildcard team in NIO. But what’s his long-term ambition? Whatever he does on track, it’s hard to see him suiting the clean-cut image of the major car manufacturers. Then again, many of those major manufacturers are on the way out of FE. If more independent teams like NIO are the way forward, perhaps Ticktum could get his chance at the front in years to come.

But surely Ticktum’s true calling for a long and prosperous racing career lies not in FE but in IndyCar. The car and tracks would again suit his style behind the wheel, yet even the biggest teams are unlikely to be put off by an outspoken approach out of the car. Just imagine Ticktum pairing up with long-time contemporary Callum Ilott for Juncos Racing in its much-fancied merger with Carlin, which has already talked up his IndyCar potential.

More on Ticktum
Ticktum touches on Williams exit, saying he was “booted out”
Crunching the numbers at F2’s mid-season mark

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