14/10/14

Double podium for Blomqvist at Imola!

After its mid-season break, the F3 FIA European Championship returned to action this weekend in Imola.  The Italian circuit posed a new challenge to most of the Euro F3 drivers but two days of testing before the 10th round of the championship got underway certainly put Blomqvist and his fellow Jagonya Ayam with Carlin team mates in good stead.

Qualifying for Race 1 took place Friday afternoon and the brief 30 minute session was hindered by two red flags, making it difficult to improve on any posted times however, Blomqvist timed his flying lap perfectly and was sitting in 3rd but with the final red flag being waved within the last three minutes of the session, he was just beaten to the spot by Jordan King meaning Tom had to settle for 4th.  This was not to remain the final line up though as Jayonya Ayam with Carlin team mate, Antonio Giovinazzi, had to serve a three-place grid penalty from an incident at the last round at the Nurburgring meaning he lost his second place and Blomqvist moves up to P3.

The opening race Saturday morning at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola was a successful one for Blomqvist and his team mates with all of them scorning championship points.  Despite an early safety car which temporarily halted racing to clear away an opening lap incident, Blomqvist managed to maintain his position for the the duration of the race and score his first podium finish of the weekend.

Blomqvist said after the race, “It was a good result, after the drama earlier in the week it was good to get a podium for everyone. It was a relatively straight forward race really, I came close with Jordan at the start but it wasn’t quite enough. I came under attack briefly from Felix at the restart, but after that it was just a case of managing the gaps. I couldn’t quite do anything about Esteban and Jordan, the pace was all pretty similar.”

It was a difficult qualifying session for Races 2 and 3 on Saturday evening as fading light caused some issues for the Euro F3 drivers.  Despite this, Blomqvist was comfortable with the car and some strong laps from him secured P2. However, pole-sitter Max Verstappen had to serve a penalty meaning Tom moved up to pole.  His second fastest lap time of the session was only enough for P4  for Race 3 but Blomqvist and team were feeling positive about race day on Sunday.

Sunny skies in Imola produced perfect race conditions and Blomqvist drove a perfect race, enjoying a lights to flag victory.  Starting from pole, he had a great start and took control of the 20-lap race, building up a dominant lead.  This advantage was to be cut short when the safety car was called to deal with an incident involving Toril and the circuit was under full yellows for a number of laps but once called back in, Blomqvist resumed his lead and once again pulled ahead and took the chequered flag comfortably in first place.  Jajonya Ayam with Carlin team mate, Giovinazzi, was to follow shortly behind so double podium for the team.

A happy Blomqvist said “It was an awesome race for us! I technically inherited the pole position from Max [Verstappen] but I gave him two poles earlier in the season because of the same engine penalty so we can’t complain! We definitely had the pace advantage over the field and that was clear because Antonio [Giovinazzi] was up there with me. It was a case of just not making any mistakes with the Safety Car being the only hurdle. The car was great and it feels amazing to get the win.”

Despite the earlier success, the third and final race of the weekend was a tough one.  On the opening lap, team mate Giovinazzi was taken out by Edward Jones as he ploughed through the gravel trap, forcing both drivers to retire from the race.  This was the first deployment of the safety car and only a few laps later, its second appearance was made following the off-track excursion by Sandro Zeller.  Lap eleven saw it out for the third time after Rosenqvist collided with King and they hit the barriers.  During the incident-filled race, Blomqvist unfortunately lost one position, finishing in 5th place but still scoring some vital points for the championship.

Final race of the 2014 championship will take place at Hockenheim next weekend, 17th-19th October, where Blomqvist will be trying to improve on his current 3rd place in the driver championship.