In the pad­dock: Kevin Turner

Mclaren Autosport BRDC Award win­ner Dan Tick­tum de­serves his chance, along with a group of ex­cit­ing young Bri­tish driv­ers

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Kevin Turner, Edi­tor

IT RE­ALLY IS TIME TO MOVE ON. YES, DAN TICK­TUM was banned for driv­ing into cham­pi­onship ri­val Ricky Col­lard be­hind the safety car in an MSA For­mula race at Sil­ver­stone in 2015. Yes, it was un­ac­cept­able and de­served cen­sure. But no, it doesn’t mean he should never be al­lowed on a race track again.

For a start, how many 16-year-olds make stupid de­ci­sions? Lots. And most of their er­rors aren’t broad­cast live on na­tional tele­vi­sion.

There would also be tremen­dous in­con­sis­tency and hypocrisy if the Red Bull ju­nior was to pay for his crime with any­thing more than his year out of the sport. In the past, we’ve had ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers de­lib­er­ately col­lide with ri­vals at rac­ing speed in or­der to win the F1 world cham­pi­onship, with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess, and none of them so much as missed a race as a re­sult. Just this sea­son, a 29-year-old, four-time world cham­pion lost his rag fol­low­ing a per­ceived in­jus­tice and drove into the race leader be­hind a safety car. He served a 10-sec­ond penalty and fin­ished that race fourth.

Tick­tum has worked hard to get his ca­reer back on track, re­pay Red Bull’s faith in him and show that he has learned his les­son. This year has re­ally pro­vided ev­i­dence of what many in the MSA For­mula (now Bri­tish F4) pad­dock al­ready knew: that Tick­tum is one of the most ex­cit­ing young tal­ents out there.

The Sil­ver­stone tests for the Mclaren Autosport BRDC Award are al­ways fas­ci­nat­ing and ev­ery now and again pro­duce a spe­cial mo­ment, such as Jen­son But­ton’s run in a Su­per Tour­ing Nis­san Primera in 1998 or Alexan­der Sims’s

DTM per­for­mance 10 years later.

This year, it was a ses­sion on a damp-but-dry­ing Sil­ver­stone Grand Prix cir­cuit in the Mo­tor­sport Vi­sion-run For­mula 2 cars on slicks. Tick­tum was first on the road, nor­mally a dis­ad­van­tage, but his com­mit­ment and pace were ex­tra­or­di­nary and he ended the ses­sion well clear of the other fi­nal­ists.

Tick­tum’s old MSA For­mula ri­val and pre­de­ces­sor as Award win­ner Lando Nor­ris was not sur­prised – it’s an abil­ity he has seen be­fore. That run was not the only rea­son Tick­tum won the Award, but it’s a per­for­mance that will stick in the minds of those who wit­nessed it.

Tick­tum is an in­tense, con­fi­dent per­son­al­ity. He doesn’t have the quiet, un­der­stated pol­ish of Mclaren pro­tege Nor­ris, or the easy charm of 2014 Mclaren Autosport BRDC Award win­ner and GP3 cham­pion Ge­orge Rus­sell. But he is an en­gag­ing char­ac­ter – the sort many fans say they want – and, most im­por­tantly, he is fast.

The fu­ture of Bri­tish rep­re­sen­ta­tion in F1 should be safe. Rus­sell is af­fil­i­ated to Mercedes, Nor­ris to Mclaren and Tick­tum to Red Bull. All three have shown the po­ten­tial to not just get to F1 but make a real im­pact once they are there. If you’re an ath­let­ics fan, it could be likened to the Steve

Ovett, Se­bas­tian Coe and Steve Cram trio of the 1980s.

There’s a lit­tle bit of healthy nee­dle be­tween the young Brits too. Each knows the oth­ers are threats, and are a lit­tle less ef­fu­sive than they might be if they weren’t pretty con­vinced they’ll be rac­ing each other at ever-higher lev­els over the next few sea­sons. And let’s not for­get Fer­rari Driver Academy mem­ber Cal­lum Ilott, who will be one of the favourites in GP3 next year now that he has been con­firmed at lead­ing squad ART.

Nor­ris and Rus­sell will go head to head for the first time in cars in F2 next year, hop­ing to take on Prema’s dom­i­nance of the cat­e­gory, while Tick­tum will try to re­peat Nor­ris’s suc­cess­ful rookie cam­paign in Euro­pean F3. Tick­tum will drive with Mo­topark, which took Joel Eriks­son to the run­ner-up spot this year. And not just be­cause he won the Ma­cau Grand

Prix with Timo Rumpfkeil’s squad last month.

“I did some test­ing with him when I was banned, and Timo’s one of those guys who al­ways trusted in me,” said Tick­tum last Sun­day.

“He’s seen some won­der­ful driv­ers, like Valt­teri Bot­tas, and he was ring­ing me and wanted me. We’ll have to as­sess the goals for 2018 once we’ve done some test­ing. I’ll still be a rookie but right now I’d love to be win­ning.”

Like Nor­ris this year, Tick­tum will also dove­tail his F3 cam­paign with F1 sim­u­la­tor sup­port over grand prix week­ends. He’ll be run­ning in Red Bull’s ad­vanced sim, per­form­ing the same sort of role for Max Ver­stap­pen and Daniel Ric­cia­rdo as Nor­ris did for Fer­nando Alonso and Stof­fel Van­doorne at Mclaren in 2017. That’s how much trust Red Bull and Hel­mut Marko have placed in him.

As ever with Red Bull’s driv­ers, Tick­tum will have to de­liver, but he does not seem the sort of guy to lift off the gas. Ever. As long as he con­tin­ues to learn and add ex­pe­ri­ence to his ob­vi­ous abil­i­ties, there’s no rea­son to think he won’t con­tinue his rise.

Tick­tum has served his time and re­sponded. Now it’s time to start en­joy­ing what he can do along­side Bri­tain’s other young mo­tor­sport stars.

“Tick­tum is one of the most ex­cit­ing young tal­ents out there”

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