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Dan Ticktum interview: The best British driver not in Formula 1 and a throwback to a bygone era

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Dan Ticktum may only be 21, but he talks and acts as though he belongs to a totally different era of Formula 1.

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.

Dutch Photo Agency

“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.

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