"I just have to try and smile" - ERT strategy poker with Dan Ticktum in Mexico fails
The Chinese-British Formula E team ERT got off to a disastrous start to the new 2023/24 season in Mexico. After a part inside Sergio Sette Camara's car exploded before the start, Dan Ticktum also suffered a debacle: Due to the lack of efficiency, ERT had decided on a hara-kiri strategy towards the halfway point of the race, which didn't work out.
"This year, we are quite prepared to take a little more risk in races where we might be able to score a few points," Ticktum told Motorsport.com before the race in Mexico. And that's exactly what happened: ERT bet everything on a second safety car during the E-Prix in order to be able to attack again in the final phase with a clear energy advantage. However, the safety car did not come out onto the track a second time.
"After the restart, Ticktum held his position but used a little too much energy," explained ERT in its press release. "Knowing that a points-scoring position was unlikely with the same strategy, the team opted for a super-conservative energy strategy to build up an energy advantage in anticipation of another safety car deployment."
A very tough start to the season today. @sergiosettecama with a technical issue before the race start and @DanTicktum with an incredibly tough race where part way through we gambled on a super save strategy that didn’t pay off.— ERT Formula E Team (@ERTFormulaETeam) January 13, 2024
Onwards and upwards - we will come back stronger… pic.twitter.com/5nwct2Tbi8
"Unfortunately, the risk did not work out, so Ticktum was classified as the last driver, although he had well implemented the energy-saving strategy he had been given," said the team. Ticktum himself said after the E-Prix: "Unfortunately, the race was a bit of a disaster. We struggled with efficiency. It was a difficult day."
Lap times outside our table
In fact, the lap time analysis within our statistical analysis of the Mexico City E-Prix clearly shows what ERT was up to. Ticktum drove at a stable level until lap 17 and then slowed down considerably, so that his graph is not even visible in the graphic below for large parts of the race. It wasn't until lap 35 that the Brit showed a sign of life. But by then it was all too late.
Ticktum: "It's going to be a tough year"
It promises not to be an easy tenth season for ERT. "I think it's still possible to beat the Mahindras," said Ticktum to Motorsport.com. "But from my point of view, we really did our best last year. I think that others were not as much in their (potential performance) window as we were maybe, (...) but they have improved."
"To cut a long story short: It's going to be a tough year. I don't want to sound hopeless, but we've done simulations and we know where we are. I just have to try to smile and get through this year," said Ticktum, who is hoping for an improvement with a new powertrain for the 2025 season: "I think the year after will be more positive for the team."
First of all, ERT has to compete in Saudi Arabia in just over a week's time. The first of two night races at the Diriyah E-Prix is scheduled for Friday 26 January. Last year, Ticktum scored one point there with tenth place at least.