Formula E

"I tapped driver in front of me to get rid of wing" - FIA investigates safety car incident from Dan Ticktum in Monaco Formula E race

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

With a sixth-place finish at the Monaco E-Prix, Dan Ticktum repeated the best result of his Formula E career from Cape Town. The Nio 333 driver thus secured a further eight world championship points after another strong qualifying session. However, it wasn't even his collision with Maximilian Günther that caused discussion, but rather an interview that the young Brit gave after the race. In it he told of deliberate jostling against a competitor.

Ticktum had a good start to the Monaco E-Prix from starting position 5 and pushed directly past Maximilian Günther. As in Berlin, the initial phase in the Principality was also characterized by energy saving and Attack Mode activations, so that the Nio 333 driver even ended the ninth lap as the leader. However, he did not stay there for long. He was in fifth position shortly after race half-time, even though he had slightly less energy than most of the drivers at the front of the field.

On the 21st lap, however, Ticktum got too close to Sacha Fenestraz, who was ahead of him, at the Rascasse corner. He damaged his front wing, which subsequently dragged on the ground and front wheel, causing heavy smoke. "I damaged my front wing when everyone was fighting for position," he said, describing the situation with Fenestraz. "On a track like this, the accordion effect is very big. I lost part of my wing and it was grinding on the ground."

A few meters later, there was the collision between Ticktum and Günther. The Maserati driver subsequently had to retire from the race with a defective suspension, while Ticktum was able to continue. The safety car came out. Ticktum then decided to manage the situation with his damaged front wing in an unconventional way.

"It would have been easy to pit because that can be dangerous. I thought to myself, 'Screw it, I'll keep pushing.' Luckily, one lap later (after the contact with Fenestraz) the safety car came out," Ticktum explains. Then follows a statement that astonishes, "I was able to hit the curbs a couple of times and tapped the driver in front of me to get rid of the wing so it would impede me less. That worked really well!"

Ticktum: "Did the right thing by staying persistent"

"I thought to myself, 'You have nothing to lose,'" he continues to describe the situation. "I just went for it, and if I crashed, I would have crashed - as long as I didn't cause anyone else any problems, which I didn't. Except for Günther, who crashed into me. But anyway, I did the right thing by persevering. We scored good points."

For Ticktum, the jostling apparently isn't an issue, just the accident with Günther shortly before: "There was a lot of smoke coming up (on my car), so he knew I would be a little slower. I was driving on the right side of the track. Maybe he looked in his mirror because someone wanted to overtake him on the left or something. Then he drove into the back of me."

Günther saw the situation naturally differently. The stewards deemed the collision a racing accident. Lucky for Ticktum, who already stood at eight penalty points before the Monaco E-Prix. With twelve points, a driver is automatically suspended for one race.

A race ban could come closer if the FIA issues a penalty in a subsequent investigation of the jostling incident with Hughes in the safety car phase. When asked by 'e-Formula.news', a spokesman for the world governing body confirmed that they are aware of the issue and are currently investigating it in detail. We expect a result at the latest in the context of the Jakarta E-Prix.

Due to the crash with Günther and the jostling affair, Ticktum's good result at the Monaco E-Prix is almost invisible. Once again, he showed good pace and qualifying and race around ultimately finished sixth. "Overall, I'm happy with sixth place," Ticktum explains. "Without the damaged front wing, I might have been able to hold on to fifth place. But the cars behind me had more energy. Without the safety car periods, I would have dropped further back, but I would have made it into the points either way." Ticktum now sits 16th in the Formula E championship standings with 18 points.

Comment by Tobias Wirtz

A driver who has a defective front wing normally runs the risk of race control forcing him to make a pit stop with the black and orange flag for safety reasons. In Formula E, however, a driver can no longer win a pot of gold with a repair stop. The races are too short for that, and the performance differences between the vehicles are far too small.

Some may therefore consider it particularly clever of Dan Ticktum to ram a competitor behind the safety car and thus get rid of his defective front wing. Others see the next unsportsmanlike act - a theme that runs through the Briton's season. Just ask colleagues Stoffel Vandoorne and Jake Dennis. Actually, though, similar incidents have characterized his entire motorsport career.

Ticktum has had experience with ramming behind the safety car since Formula 4. In September 2015, he initially overtook ten cars behind the safety car in the British Formula 4 Championship and then shot down his championship rival Ricky Collard, who had previously spun him. As a result, Ticktum was banned for two years, one year of which was suspended.

I wonder what Ticktum would have done in that situation had he been the first car behind the safety car. Would he then have rammed Bruno Correia's Porsche Taycan to get rid of the front wing?

Whether it was so clever of Ticktum afterwards to admit this behavior blatantly in front of running cameras, I dare to doubt. The FIA, for which the issue of safety normally has the very highest priority, must intervene here in my eyes mandatory. On the one hand, a driver in an FIA World Championship always has a role model function for young drivers in junior categories. In addition, I see a great risk that a precedent may otherwise have been set in Monaco. It doesn't help that after the race he at least apologised to Jake Hughes, whom he had rammed behind the safety car.

 
 
 
 
 
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If Ticktum's action remains inconsequential, every Gen3 driver could now try to do the same, and possibly not only at reduced speed behind the safety car. After all, you have nothing to lose in this situation - as Ticktum himself admitted.

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