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
“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