After delays in the morning of Saturday and the postponement of the first race of the weekend, Formula 2 action finally resumed in the afternoon at a drying but still wet Sochi Autodrom. Carlin’s Dan Ticktum achieved his second victory of the season with a strong lights to flag win that has kept him in the running for the title.
By Tyler Foster
Ticktum held his reverse grid pole after qualifying 10th on Friday, with Jüri Vips also holding station for 2nd. Robert Shwartzman however moved up onto the podium in front of his home crowd after Liam Lawson locked up and tagged the barrier early on. Championship contender Guanyu Zhou also notably failed to start the race after having his car recovered after spinning on the warm-up lap.
“It was not easy: it was about car control and especially through the VSC’s where the tyres go off a bit and you don’t know how much to push them again. A lot of feel is required and if you do make a mistake you’re either going off and losing a few positions or you’re in the wall. You saw people crash on the way to the grid. There was just no grip at all.”
Following the cancellation of the second race of the weekend, the first race was rescheduled for after the F1 qualifying. While the track had now formed a dry line, the rest was still damp. With no intermediate tyre available to the feeder series, the task of leading the race was certainly a daunting one for Ticktum.
“I was on the right side of the grid. I was pretty slow at the start. Jüri [Vips] was all over my gearbox. As the lead car you are the one giving everyone references. It’s impossible to know how much to push but once I had two laps calibrating I then started to pull away. The rolling start was probably helpful overall.”
“It was probably one of the scariest races I’ve done. I remember a race on slicks in the rain all the way back in 2011 in karting. I’ve always liked changing conditions but when you’ve got over 600 horsepower in a heavy car it’s a bit different from an 80-kilo go-kart. There’s quite a lot of turbo lag so the turbo can sort of bite you in the arse.”
While this win may be the better of the two that Dan has managed so far this season, as the first came as a result of a disqualification for Liam Lawson in Monaco, the British driver still is struggling to come to grips with his uncertain future and the major disappointment of missing out on possible chances to make it to Formula One.
“It’s sweet, there is no doubt about that, however I point back to what I said from Monza. While it’s lovely to win on the day, it sort of doesn’t mean that much because I don’t know where I’m going to be next year and I’m certainly not going to be in Formula 1 which was always my goal. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m pretty down about it. I’ve worked very hard and caused a lot of mistakes for myself and people know what they are. I’m happy to win but it’s a bit bittersweet. Mixed emotions, let’s say.”
“The last few weeks I’ve been accepting that I’m not going to achieve my goal. I don’t want to get all depressing but it is depressing. The Super License denied me a few years ago; I’ve done some stupid things along the way. I don’t know where I’m going to end up. I’ve always said that if I don’t end up in Formula 1, I’ll bugger off and do something else if I’m honest. Without being arrogant, I think I have too much to offer behind the steering wheel to do that. I have a couple of options but it’s not the best time.”
“Am I too politically incorrect for the environment at the moment in this sport? Yes or I have been. You’ve got to represent massive companies and you’ve got to be a robot basically. If you have someone that is a bit of a character, even telling the truth sometimes can get you into trouble. I’ll speak for all drivers, some care about it more than others and some just get on with it, but it’s safe to say that a lot of us and a lot of the Formula 1 drivers too would like to be themselves a bit more and say things other than the same things all the time. I think the fans would also like someone who is a little bit different.”
“I should have learnt sooner and I should have changed sooner but I didn’t so here I am. Anyone with half a brain will know it’s IndyCar, DTM or another year of F2, maybe Formula E. Those are going to be the options, so those are places I’m going to be looking at.”
When speaking in the press conference after the race Ticktum told F1 Feeder Series and selected media that while he was still mathematically in contention for the title, he didn’t see himself in the fight.
“I’d have to have a flawless rest of the season. Luck would constantly have to be in my favour. I’d have to have another couple of wins and Oscar [Piastri] would have to struggle a bit which of course is a possibility but I’m not thinking about it anymore. I’m a bit of a way behind. There is still a chance but realistically it’s a small one.”
Ticktum is notorious for his candid approach but is in the process of attempting to accept his own failures and move on. We asked him whether the reality of not achieving his dream of getting a drive in F1 could possibly have a positive long-term impact on both his attitude and career.
“It’s a very good point. I’m just in the process of swallowing the fact that I’m not going to be a Formula One driver. If I do find another option and commit to it properly in being successful and doing well, I probably will be happy. It’s just this period at the moment that is a tough one.”
“I’m sure a lot of people would like me to become a commentator. We’ll see. Maybe commentating straight away will be quite tough to watch cars go round. Maybe that’s a future job. I’d like to be like a Top Gear presenter, I love road cars, I’m like an encyclopaedia for them.”
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