26/09/17

Race Result: Blomqvist struggles in Spielberg

Spielberg (AUT) Spielberg (AUT)
Race 1 16th Race 2 13th

Tom Blomqvist’s woes continued in the 2017 DTM season as a difficult weekend in Spielberg saw the 23-year old fail to pick up any points at the Red Bull Ring despite a strong showing in Sunday’s race.

With performance weights being dropped prior to the eighth round of the DTM season, Spielberg was going to be the first chance for the manufacturers to display their true pace around the Red Bull Ring without the success ballast.

Action in the picturesque Styria region commenced with free practice on Friday and under the clear blue skies, Tom completed the 30-minute session in 13th place - with Audi displaying its dominance around the 2.683-mile circuit.

Saturday

Saturday morning saw free practice get off to a delayed start in Austria, after thick fog loomed over the Red Bull Ring before finally clearing for a sunny autumn day.

Saturday’s practice session did not make good reading for Tom and BMW as he finished the session down in 15th place, with BMW failing to break inside the top-ten with any of its drivers as the practice session ended.

With Audi looking like the team to beat in Austria, Tom failed to hit the sweet spot in qualifying and his lap time of 1:22.638, only six-tenths off pole position, was only enough to secure 16th place for the start of race one.

Starting down in 16th place, the Thunderhead-sponsored driver had to take evasive action when the lights went out for race one, as Mortara stalled from his grid box in front of Tom. Making it safely past the Mercedes of Mortara, Tom then made his way around the first corner and got great traction out of turn one as he shot up the hill.

Keeping out of any first lap dramas, Tom then dived into the pits as BMW gambled on a safety car to bring Tom into points scoring contention. Making good initial progress, Tom began to pass drivers several positions higher than him as they came in for their mandatory pitstop but Tom would have the harder task of spending much longer on his rubber.

As the race hit the halfway stage, Tom’s tyres began to drop off and he simply could not match the lap times of the cars around him. With the gamble on the safety car not paying off, Tom began to fall down the order and it wasn’t long before he was back where he started.

Eventually crossing the line in 16th place, Tom ended a difficult first race in Spielberg and turned his concentration to Sunday’s race.

“That did not go particularly well for us. We stopped on lap one and pinned our hopes on a safety car. Unfortunately, that was not to be. We have to move on from that race and improve tomorrow.”

Sunday

Despite finishing in 17th place in free practice on Sunday morning, Tom pulled out a much-improved qualifying performance to reignite his weekend in Austria. Tom’s 1:22.390 lap time pushed him inside the top-ten for the first time during the weekend as he finished the qualifying session in 9th place.

Starting on the outside line for race two, Tom got an average start off the line and drifted to the inside to cover off Spengler. Getting good traction in the second phase of his start, Tom then pulled back onto the racing line and got a superb exit out of turn one to give himself a fantastic run as they headed up the hill.

Passing championship leader, Mattias Ekstrom, on the exit of turn one, Tom then accelerated up the hill and began to challenge the cars in front as they all entered the heavy braking zone of turn two. Taking to the outside, Tom then pulled off a fantastic move to go around the outside of Timo Glock and pulled his BMW alongside Gary Paffett.

Side-by-side heading down to turn three, Tom was on the outside for the third corner and was forced to back out of the move as Paffett shut the door, making Tom tuck in behind as Timo Glock looked to make an attack on Tom. Displaying some skilful defensive driving, Tom kept the former-F1 driver at bay as he crossed the line for lap one up in 7th place.

As Mueller began to back Paffett up, Tom came into the pits at the end of lap three and rejoined the race just ahead of Ekstrom. Ekstrom, on the warmer tyres, began to catch Tom as Tom weaved to get his temperatures up to their optimum.

Losing three to four seconds on his out lap, Tom was now a sitting duck to Ekstrom who breezed past Tom as Tom still fought to get his temperatures up. Eventually getting his rubber working, Tom stayed with Ekstrom as the rest of the pack began to make their mandatory pitstops.

Jumping multiple drivers in the stops, Tom had really good track position as he followed the battle between Ekstrom and Wittmann through the middle stage of the race. As Tom’s early pitstop began to affect the performance of his tyres, Tom fell off the back of the battle between Wittmann and Ekstrom and into the grasp of Paffett – a driver he had jumped in the stops.

Now coming under increased pressure from Paffett, Tom had to go defensive as the pair headed up the hill into turn two and Tom defended the inside as Paffett tried to switch back on Tom going down the back straight. Keeping just a whisker in front of Paffett, Tom seized the outside line at the turn three while Paffett opted for the inside line. Tom, sticking to the outside of turn three, now had the inside for turn four and more terrific defensive driving kept Paffett behind.

Unfortunately, this battle looked like a matter of when and not if Paffett would get past and a lap later Paffett found his way through.

With less than fifteen-minutes to run and still looking destined for a strong finish, Tom’s race would then take a luckless turn as the safety car was brought out for Lucas Auer’s spin.

Staying out for a few laps, the safety car came in with nine minutes left on the clock and Tom’s tyres, that had been running all but three laps of the race, were kaput.

Bunched up for the Indycar-style restart, Tom got a good restart but as the lap elapsed, Tom’s grip disadvantage was evident as he struggled to preserve his position. Fighting right until the chequered flag, Tom crossed the line in 13th place to round off a difficult weekend in Spielberg.

“I had a good start, but then came into the pits really early. That did not pay dividends. After a certain point in the race, my tyres were finished. I then dropped back through the field like a stone. The restart was okay – but the third and fourth turns were not. The rest of the race and the result were disappointing.”

Tom now looks ahead to the season finale in three weeks’ time as the DTM grids heads back to Hockenheim to conclude the 2017 season (13th – 15th October). 

#31 Tom Blomqvist | Red Bull Ring

FP1: 13th (1:24.115, +0.848)

FP2: 15th (1:23.112, +0.975)
Q1: 16th (1:22.638, +0.665)
Race 1: 16th 

FP3: 17th (1:23.405, +1.346)
Q2: 9th (1:22.390, +0.435)
Race 2: 13th