McLaren has found itself in an awkward position after young British driver Dan Ticktum, a member of Red Bull's driver programme, won a coveted award that was supposed to come with a 2018 simulator role with its Formula One team.
Ticktum won the prestigious McLaren Autosport British Drivers' Racing Club (BRDC) award for this year. Previous winners include David Coulthard, 2009 world champion Jenson Button and multiple Indy 500 winner and IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti. Last year's recipient Lando Norris is now reserve driver for McLaren.
The prize was supposed to include a test of McLaren's 2013 F1 car and a simulator role for next year. Though McLaren has a large role to play in the award, the BRDC oversees the nomination and selection process. Ticktum was one of four nominees who were tested over two days in various racing cars. The performances across those two days eventually earned him the award.
Complicating the matter is the fact Ticktum was signed to Red Bull's junior programme in 2017. ESPN understands McLaren has no intention of handing Ticktum a simulator role given his ties to one of its biggest rivals, meaning his reward will be limited to a run in a 2013 McLaren at some stage next year. Given the fact most promising young drivers are now signed to various driver programmes, McLaren is hoping the BRDC considers a change to how the award is nominated having voiced concerns during this year's process that the winner could be affiliated to another team.
For Ticktum, the award caps a remarkable turnaround in his young career. The Englishman was banned for two years after an incident in a 2015 MSA Formula race where he overtook 10 competitors under a Safety Car in order to crash into a rival who he had come into contract with earlier in the race. His ban was eventually shortened to one year, and he returned to racing in late 2015, before being picked up by Red Bull. He won the famous Macau Grand Prix this year and plans to contest a full season of Formula 3 in 2018.