When young drivers begin chasing a career in motorsport, they usually have an end point in mind. For British racer Dan Ticktum, that was Formula 1. But despite stints with both Red Bull and Williams’ development programs, he now finds himself in the all-electric Formula E World Championship.
“Most of my life was spent trying to get to Formula 1,” says Ticktum when we met at the New York E Prix. “So I spent most of my career on that ladder.”
Despite wins in Formula 3 and Formula 2, Ticktum didn’t find his spot in F1 and had to look for other options. He says he saw “good opportunities” in Formula E, so he signed to race for the Nio 333 team alongside Oliver Turvey.
He says: “I thought it was a good thing for me, and hopefully it can be a long and good career.”
Ticktum is one of three rookies in the Formula E paddock this year, alongside ex-Alfa Romeo F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi and Oliver Askew, the sole American in the sport.
So far, it’s been a tough year to be a new driver in the series. Askew currently leads the rookies after his 9th place finish at the season opener in Diriyah. Ticktum also picked up his first points in Rome, while Giovinazzi is having a hard season and having failed to finish higher than 16th.
Like every new driver this year, Ticktum has had a lot to adapt to in his switch to Formula E.
“The races are obviously very different,” he says. “The car itself to drive is obviously very different – not being on slicks, being a bit heavier. The car is better to drive than I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult, but I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought.”
Changes Ticktum has had to make to his driving style have centered around energy usage in the race and figuring out the quickest, yet most efficient, way to reach the checkered flag.
He’s also had to get to grips with the differences in the way the car handles and drives, the use of road-ready tires instead of slick track wheels, and the circuits themselves. Where F2 follows Formula 1 around the world racing on pristine grade one tracks, Formula E sets up on rough and ready street circuits.
It’s a lot to get used to for any new driver in the series.
“It can be a bit frustrating at times,” says Ticktum. “I’m a bit more of an old school sort of driver. So, some are surprised to even see me in Formula E. Sometimes I am still surprised that I’m in Formula E, if I’m honest.”
Now, with just four races left this year and following a strong drive to 12th place in New York, Ticktum is hoping for a positive end to his debut Formula E season.
“We’ve made some big improvements, and the car mechanically is good,” he says. “We just need to try and piece a few things together and hopefully we can have a good end to the season.”