17/10/17

Race Result: Frustrating finale for Tom Blomqvist at Hockenheim

Hockenheim II (GER) Hockenheim II (GER)
Race 1 15th Race 2 DNF

Tom Blomqvist failed to shake this season’s poor luck as, despite claiming pole position in the final race of the year, his weekend ended in frustration after he was taken out by another driver while running in the podium places.

Heading back to Germany and returning to Hockenheim for the final time this season, Tom was looking forward to ending his season on a high as he attempted to put his bad luck behind him as the season drew to a close in front of the German crowds.

Friday’s session saw Tom get off to a tough start in the ninth and final round of the season. A 1:32.942 lap time was only enough for 17th place as the 30-minute session expired as his BMW team concentrated on long runs for the weekend’s races.

Saturday

Saturday commenced with free practice in the morning and Tom, despite gaining a second on his previous time, could only manage a 1:31.921 which put him 18th in the standings for the first session of the day.

Struggling to extract performance out of his BMW M4 DTM, Tom’s woes continued into qualifying as he finished the first qualifying of the weekend down in 16th place – leaving the Thunderhead-sponsored driver with a lot of work to do in Saturday’s race.

As the lights went out for the 17th race of the 2017 season, Tom bogged down off the line and fell back to 18th place but stayed tight with the cars in front and managed to pass Maro Engel when the field reached the stadium section in the first lap.  

Crossing the line at the end of the first lap in 17th place, Tom was in a scrap with Loic Duval and finally got past the Frenchman before the sixth lap and was lapping consistently as the first of the drivers began to pit.

Opting for a long stop, Tom expertly managed his tyres with pace and precision and stayed out for the longest amount of time compared to the rest of the field. Briefly having a scrap with Jamie Green, who had pitted earlier and was theoretically leading the race, Tom pitted from first place and re-joined the action in 16th place.

Now on the fresher rubber, Tom began posting consecutive personal best laps and was hunting down the cars in front – who were almost four seconds up the road from Tom. Taking 15th place before the end, Tom crossed the line in 15th place but could have easily moved himself further up the order in there were a few more laps in the race.

All in all, Tom reflected on a gamble on strategy that didn’t pay dividends for the 23-year old.

“That was not a good race. There was not really much we could do today starting from that far back. We tried to stay out as long as possible but that did not help us either. We will go again tomorrow, and will push hard again.”

Sunday

Sunday saw a turnaround in fortunes for Tom as his disappointing showing on Saturday was put right with a sensational performance in qualifying. Looking rejuvenated in his BMW, Tom was sat in third place behind BMW stablemate Marco Wittmann and Audi driver Rene Rast at the halfway point in qualifying.

Then a dramatic twist in qualifying saw a drain cover in the braking zone on the main straight loosened by Gary Paffett and then collected by fellow Mercedes driver Paul di Resta, with the Scotsman sustaining a left-front puncture as a result.

This led to the 20-minute session being suspended just short of the halfway mark, allowing track workers to head out and attempt repairs – as the missing drain cover had now left a sizable hole in the ground.

Qualifying resumed over half an hour later, and while neither Wittmann nor Rast improved on their first flying laps, Blomqvist leapfrogged the pair with an outstanding 1:30.491 effort – the fastest lap of the weekend from any driver on the grid as he picked up his third pole position of his career.

In front of a 152,000 capacity crowd, Tom lined up on the grid from pole position and got a good start off the line, momentarily moving over to fend off any attack from Rast and then moved back onto the racing line for the first corner.

Keeping the lead, Tom managed to pull a healthy gap as Rast, Wittmann and Auer all battled over second place. Crossing the line in 1st place at the end of the first lap, Tom had managed to pull away by 1.3 seconds from Wittmann.

Enjoying the clear air out in front, Tom began to stretch his gap even further from stablemate Wittmann and was two seconds clear of the German before reaching the ninth lap of the race. After the ninth lap, Tom began to struggle with tyre degradation and the 2016 DTM Champion started to reduce the gap with every passing lap.

With Rast pushing Wittmann and Wittmann subsequently pushing Tom, Wittmann came into the pits on the twelfth lap leaving Tom to fend off the extremely quick Audi of Rast. As Rast used his DRS advantage, Tom performed some outstanding defence driving to keep Rast at bay and on the fifteenth lap, Tom entered the pits for his mandatory stop.

A sluggish 8.7 second stop saw Tom re-join the race behind Marco Wittmann and on the colder tyres, losing the lead of the race to his BMW teammate. With Tom’s tyres now up to temperature, Tom saw the Audi of Rene Rast re-join the race in front of him and as Tom scrapped with him, this allowed Robert Wickens to catch up and join the fight.

With Wickens impatiently trying to get past Tom, Wickens was within the second DRS activation zone and coming down the Parabolika, the Canadian decided to launch his attack.

Staying on the outside of Tom heading down the Parabolika, Wickens made a last-minute move on Tom, attempting to switch from the outside of Tom’s BMW to the inside but misjudged the move.

Making contact with Tom’s rear, Wickens shredded off Tom’s backend leaving the young Brit with extensive damage and forcing the BMW works driver to retire from the podium places – a bitterly disappointing result to end the season on.

“My start was good, and I led up until the pit stop. That did not go well, and I lost ground as a result and dropped back two positions behind Marco and René. After that, I no longer had the same pace and had a few issues with the balance of the car. Robert Wickens then took me out of the race. All in all, it was very disappointing for me and, to a certain degree, reflects my entire season.”

Tom ended the season in 17th place with 25 points, but Tom’s fantastic form in qualifying saw him tied 2nd for the highest amount of pole positions this season and he would have been tied 1st had his pole position in Moscow not been taken away due to not enough fuel being left in his tank. 

#31 Tom Blomqvist | Round Nine - Hockenheim II

FP1: 17th (1:32.942, +1.182)

FP2: 18th (1:31.921, +1.072)
Q1: 16th (1:31.125, +0.477)
Race 1: 15th

FP3: 15th (1:32.088, +0.819)
Q2: 1st (1:30.491)
Race 2: DNF