Austrian Grand Prix – Dr. Helmut Marko has confirmed Dan Ticktum is no longer part of the Red Bull junior programme, after losing his Super Formula seat on Thursday.
The 20 year old British driver, who was runner-up to Mick Schumacher in last year’s Euro F3 Championship, was part of the Red Bull junior programme and was a name linked with the second vacant seat at Toro Rosso over the winter break. Getting his chance to do some testing with Red Bull Racing in Bahrain and Spain earlier this year, Ticktum’s goal for 2019 appeared to be getting sufficient superlicence points to possibly be a candidate for an F1 seat in 2020.
To that end, he was sent off to Japan’s Super Formula series with Team Mugen and Red Bull’s backing. However, results have been poor – his best result was P8 at the season opener in Suzuka.
As a result, Ticktum appears to have fully lost the support of Red Bull and also his seat with Team Mugen. Speaking to Red Bull’s Speedweek, Marko confirmed that Ticktum has been axed: “Dan Ticktum is no longer part of our programme.”
Marko went on to confirm that Ticktum did not leave of his own volition, but was dropped. Ticktum was publicly critical of his car’s performance, which is believed to have annoyed Honda – the power unit suppliers to Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Between this and poor results, the final nail in the coffin is believed to have been the fact that his teammate Lucas Auer finished on the podium last time out in Sugo.
Indy Lights Champion Patricio O’Ward, now racing in IndyCar, was signed to the Red Bull programme last month, and has been flown in to take part in Formula 2 this weekend. He replaced the banned Indian driver Raghunathan at MP Motorsport and the Speedweek report suggests that he could be an option to replace Ticktum in Super Formula and chase superlicence points to enter the F1 sphere.
“This is a one-on-one, more is not planned in Formula 2.” O’Ward told Speedweek. But, intriguingly, he added: “The continuation of my IndyCar series season is by no means certain.”
Ticktum’s rise through the ranks of the lower formulae was controversial, having returned from a year’s racing ban in 2016. Racing for Fortec in MSA Formula in 2015, Ticktum overtook several cars under the Safety Car specifically to crash into rival Ricky Collard. Handed a two year ban, he returned to racing after suspension of the second year.