Dan Tick­tum’s Mclaren F1 test

As his prize for win­ning the Mclaren Au­tosport BRDC Award last year, Dan Tick­tum earned a maiden run in F1 ma­chin­ery. And he took no pris­on­ers

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS - MATT KEW

“TICK­TUM SAT­IS­FIES THE UN­OF­FI­CIAL BENCH­MARK OF THE F1 TEST: HE TAKES ABBEY FLAT”

“Y ou can’t re­ally com­pare this to any other sport.

If you take foot­ball, you’re kick­ing a ball as soon as you start play­ing whether you’re in the Pre­mier League or not. But when you start in kart­ing and then get to For­mula 1, it’s the first time you get to ex­pe­ri­ence the top ech­e­lon of the sport.”

As a 19-year old about to head out for his first taste of an

F1 car, Dan Tick­tum is re­mark­ably com­posed and ar­tic­u­late.

He has plenty of hours in the sim­u­la­tor un­der his belt ow­ing to his stand­ing as a Red Bull ju­nior but, like he says, that pales in com­par­i­son to hav­ing a Mclaren MP4-28 and Sil­ver­stone’s Grand Prix cir­cuit all to your­self.

The drive in a car that Jen­son But­ton and Ser­gio Perez cam­paigned in 2013 is the now two-time Ma­cau Grand Prix vic­tor’s prize for win­ning last year’s Mclaren Au­tosport BRDC Award. He heads out of the garage on a bit­terly cold day for an in­stal­la­tion lap on in­ter­me­di­ate tyres. Out and straight back in again.

Af­ter a sys­tems check and a swap to demon­stra­tion-spec­i­fi­ca­tion slicks, Tick­tum’s ready to go again for his first of four lots of five­fly­ing-lap runs. Given his un­fa­mil­iar­ity with the 750bhp be­hind his head, and down­force lev­els well over twice that of his Mo­topark For­mula 3 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship Dal­lara, you’d be for­given for ex­pect­ing a rookie to take it easy.

But in what’s known as ‘do­ing an Oliver Row­land’ (the 2011

Award win­ner), Tick­tum pins open the throt­tle in the pit­lane.

The rears light up and he saws at the wheel, leav­ing two black lines as he goes. Quite the bold first im­pres­sion to make.

It’d be wrong to read Tick­tum’s ex­u­ber­ance as reck­less, how­ever. Although Sil­ver­stone’s na­ture means view­ing is lim­ited, the scream­ing 2.4-litre Mercedes V8 hides no se­crets. That means you can hear all of his throt­tle in­puts over a lap, and they go off with­out a hitch. He finds an in­stant affin­ity – much to the de­light of his grandma, who’s never watched any of his races be­fore.

Mclaren is hugely im­pressed with his runs too. Tick­tum cuts five sec­onds off his ini­tial time over the course of the morn­ing and sat­is­fies the un­of­fi­cial bench­mark of the Award F1 prize drive: tak­ing Abbey, Turn 1, flat on his fi­nal quick lap. This is met by chair­man of the Award judg­ing panel Derek War­wick, watch­ing on from the pit­wall, punch­ing the air. It’s also a vis­ceral re­minder for the 2018 Award fi­nal­ists – Jamie Caro­line, Max Fewtrell,

Tom Gam­ble and Kiern Jewiss – of the po­ten­tial re­wards.

Au­tosport records Tick­tum’s quick­est time at 1m36.6s, com­pared to Perez’s fastest lap in the 2013 Bri­tish Grand Prix of 1m36.1s and But­ton’s 1m36.4s. In iso­la­tion, a half-sec­ond gap given Tick­tum’s in­ex­pe­ri­ence is a hugely re­spectable ef­fort. But then con­sider that Tick­tum had to spend time heat­ing the tyres, with­out the use of blan­kets, and went out on cold brakes. Add in also that he ran with a heavy fuel load and a high-down­force set-up, plus he was on a very hard tyre com­pound – the demo tyres are far re­moved from the reg­u­lar F1 Pirellis to en­sure teams can’t gather ex­tra data.

Un­der­stand­ably, Amelia Lewis, the Mclaren grad­u­ate en­gi­neer tasked with run­ning the pro­gramme, is full of praise. “We were ob­vi­ously re­ally im­pressed with what he was do­ing,” she says. “As a re­sult, we wanted to make sure that we did ev­ery­thing we could

“IT IS IM­POS­SI­BLE TO PUT INTO WORDS. I FEEL AS THOUGH I’VE COM­PLETED MY LIFE, I’M SO HAPPY”

so that he got the op­por­tu­nity to do all of his runs. I think ev­ery­one in the team was im­pressed with how he per­formed.

“Straight away, from the first run he showed that he was go­ing in with a re­ally cool head and a very ma­ture out­look. He was build­ing up his con­fi­dence over his runs, so when he left tyre marks in the garage we knew at that point he was com­fort­able in the car.”

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an F1 car for the first time is a con­sid­er­able achieve­ment in it­self. But Tick­tum rel­ished his chance and pressed on to a point where he was hav­ing to man­age snaps of over­steer through the high-speed Mag­gotts-beck­etts com­plex. Un­sur­pris­ingly, the op­por­tu­nity left both a last­ing and life-af­firm­ing im­pres­sion.

“It is im­pos­si­ble to put into words,” he en­thuses. “Just over 10 years ago, which is not a very long time, I was at Bay­ford Mead­ows [kart­ing cir­cuit] go­ing for my first few tests. At that point, no-one would have thought that I’d get even close to this far. But to get to this point, sat on the front of an F1 car is more than a dream. I feel like I’ve com­pleted my life al­most, I’m just so happy.”

And that is one of the Award’s main aims, as War­wick con­cludes: “When he came here last year [for the Award] he was in­cred­i­ble. It was a great job by Mclaren – to get four five-lap runs on brand­new tyres is ex­traor­di­nary. We’ve never re­ally had that. That gave Dan a bet­ter chance to show what he showed. He was ab­so­lutely stun­ning at Beck­etts and through Abbey he was very im­pres­sive.

“It’s all about giv­ing him his first ex­pe­ri­ence – that’s the way I al­ways look at it. We’re priv­i­leged to give these great driv­ers their first chance in a grand prix car. I think that’s pretty spe­cial.”

Judge Derek War­wick was on hand to watch the test

The 2018 fi­nal­ists get a look at the prize on of­fer MOTORSPORTIMAGES/FER­RARO/LAT

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