Long-time European Formula 3 championship leader Dan Ticktum has questioned the sudden dominance by Mick Schumacher after he took two wins and stormed clear in the standings last weekend in Austria.
The Red Bull junior was leading by over 100 points at one stage this season but five consecutive wins, including a clean sweep at the Nurburgring and the first two races at the Red Bull Ring have seen Schumacher take a 49-point advantage into the final three races to come at Hockenheim.
Ticktum, who is the running for a seat at Toro Rosso in F1 next year, needs the F3 title to qualify for a superlicence and made the since-deleted claims of a conspiracy on Instagram.
"Not ideal is the best way I can describe the weekend here in Austria," he wrote having finished eighth, 17th and fourth over the three rounds in Spielberg.
"I don’t like pointing fingers at anyone but to be honest, this weekend the pace in the car was not there. However, compared to the top two, no-one on this grid had a chance.
"Even their other teammates who are good drivers were nowhere compared to them. Interesting is how I would describe their pace and I am confident many people in the F3 paddock will agree."
Though later insisting he was not suggesting Schumacher's Prema team are running an illegal car, the 19-year-old suggested there was a "special engine mode or something" Mick was running.
Ticktum also refuted comments by followers of being a "sore loser" or "salty", adding: "I have a huge respect for Mick who has dealt with a lot in the past few years. I am simply suggesting that it seems to have come from nowhere.
"I appreciate I have lessons to learn still. I’m not denying that. You don’t know the real story because you are not at the track looking at everyone’s data. So I’m afraid I have to tell you that your opinion is invalid under these circumstances.
"I’ll say it only once more unless you have something constructive to say, leave your useless, all thought comments off my page as they have no evidence to ratify the truth. If you want to talk to me, DM me, as I can answer your questions if you may have some!
"Unfortunately, however, I am fighting a losing battle as my last name is not Schumacher."
Perhaps showing greater maturity in response, Schumacher kept his response short and to the point.
“I do not listen to something like that. The car is terrific to drive. We’ve evolved as a team, while others may have stopped at one point," he told Speed Week.
“I wish him good luck that he stays in the title fight. But I focus on myself, that’s my key.
“Everyone evolves during the year. We never stop working and learning. After my win at Spa, it was not easy, but we managed to be consistent, especially in qualifying, with good lap times.”
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