The London-born driver is not yet a household name in British motorsport circles like Lewis Hamilton but is arguably the best British driver currently not on the F1 grid. Plus, he is a throwback to the halcyon days of drivers not afraid to speak their mind.
It is an outspokenness that has ruffled a few feathers. Christian Horner, boss of Red Bull who used to have Ticktum on their books, once suggested Ticktum needed to engage his brain before opening his mouth.
But there is a refreshing honesty to Williams’ reserve driver, and it comes as little surprise that his idol is James Hunt, another Londoner who was crowned world champion 45 years ago.
“Drivers, we’re all put into a machine and we all come out like these robots,” he said. “None are really allowed to have any character and, if they do, they have to suppress it. You can’t say anything and I’m always going to be a bit of a strong character. Why the bloody hell should I spend my time not being me. It’s nuts. But I just have to be careful sometimes.”
He has been on the precipice of F1 before with a race drive for Toro Rosso for the 2019 season but he did not have the required points on his superlicence.
For a brief moment, his thinking was, “I’m going to give upon this”, one thought to go off and become a TV presenter. But then he realised that F1 is all he has ever aspired to from the moment he first attended the British Grand Prix as a nine-year-old to watch Sebastian Vettel win, a potential future grid rival.
“That was a tough one to swallow because I feel like I was ready for Formula 1,” he admitted. “But if I don’t make Formula 1, I don’t want to be a GT driver for years. It’s Formula 1 or bust really for me.”
Now on Williams’ books, in an ideal world George Russell moves across the grid to Mercedes for the 2022 season and he gets his racing opportunity with the British manufacturer in the seat vacated by his fellow Briton.
In addition, he will drive for Carlin in Formula 2, a team shift and a chance to hopefully prove himself at the main feeder series to F1. And he says of his upcoming campaign: “This year is probably my last chance of getting into Formula 1.”
Ticktum clearly does not lack for talent. He is a two-time winner of the prestigious Macau Grand Prix, beating a certain Lando Norris into second place on one occasion and outwitting Mick Schumacher among others for the second victory.
And he does not lack for confidence either. As he put it: “I think with Lando and George, we’d be five or six of the most talented drivers on that grid. But it’s a cut-throat sport and there’s only 20 seats.
“I feel each and everyone should be filed with someone who’s the bollocks, and you could argue there’s five drivers on the grid that shouldn’t be there, maybe even more. It’s not just about how talented you are and how good you are these days. It’s a bit frustrating.”
There are echoes of Britain’s past two F1 world champions and Ticktum in the father-and-son element. Like John and Jenson Button, and Anthony and Lewis Hamilton, his father has been the guiding force.
A self-made millionaire, much of that support is financial – “I’m reminded how much on a daily basis,” says Ticktum laughing – the rest managerial. The father-son, manager-driver relationship has not always been plain sailing.
“Up until about a year ago, I struggled with my dad a bit,” he said. “I was an opinionated young man but I understand him a bit more now. He’s worked off his balls for me and I hope I’ll repay him one day. I now know he’s always battling for me.”
As for perceptions about himself, Ticktum believes some are unfair and that any indiscretions are in the past.
“Some people still feel I’ve got creases that need ironing out but a lot of people don’t know me unfortunately. A lot of people jump to conclusions of press from five years ago or whatever. My head’s let say a lot more screwed on than some people might imagine.”
There is a refreshing honesty to Ticktum, a facet too often missing from Formula 1. It would be fun to have him on the grid in 2022.