Dan Ticktum feels FIA European Formula 3 points leader Mick Schumacher's recent pace has been “interesting” in recent weeks after seeing his own championship fortunes change dramatically, but has rejected suggestions he was hinting his rival’s car could be illegal.

Red Bull-backed youngster Ticktum, 19, lost the lead of the F3 championship last weekend at the Red Bull Ring, having experienced an 86-point swing to Schumacher over the last eight races.

A run of five straight wins has put Schumacher on the verge of winning the F3 title this year, with the German enjoying a 49-point advantage over Ticktum heading into the season finale at Hockenheim with 75 points available.

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In a post published to Instagram on Sunday - which has since been deleted - Ticktum said that while he didn’t have the pace to compete in Austria, he felt it was not possible to compete with Prema drivers Schumacher and Robert Shwartzman all weekend long.

“Not ideal is the best way I can describe the weekend here in Austria," Ticktum wrote. "I don’t like pointing fingers at anyone but to be honest, this weekend the pace in the car was not there. Set up mainly, as in the last race when we got the car better, we were pretty quick climbing from 7th to 4th.

“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.

“I did the best possible as I always endeavour to do! Thank you to the team as always for their hard work. It’s not over until it’s over and I’ll make sure I arrive at the last round in the best shape I can.”

Ticktum also wrote he felt he had been “robbed of a championship whether it’s my fault or not,” and rejected suggestions he was insinuating Prema was doing something outside of the regulations with Schumacher’s car, writing: “They may just have a special engine map or something. I never said it was illegal.”

In a final comment posted by Ticktum, he hit back at criticism offered towards him, stressing he has “huge respect” for Schumacher.

“To all people who have left negative comments on here… this is the one and only response you will get for me, so enjoy it,” he wrote.

“I’m not a sore loser. Neither am I salty. 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 never said it was illegal.

“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 [direct message] 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.”

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