19/06/17

Race Result: Tom Blomqvist’s tough start to the season continues

Hungaroring (HUN) Hungaroring (HUN)
Race 1 DNF Race 2 13

Tom Blomqvist’s tough start to the season continued as round three in Budapest was filled with yet more drama and problems for the 23-year-old.

With only two points to his name from the first two rounds of the year, Tom arrived in Budapest with high hopes of turning his season around in the Hungarian capital. Hot temperatures set the scene for the third round of the DTM season and, similar to last season, Audi were showcasing their dominance round the Hungaroring – with all six of their cars finishing free practice 1 inside the top-ten.

Although not ideal, Tom’s weekend started positively with a 13th place finish in the first free practice session which left him a second off the session leader, Mike Rockenfeller, as a spontaneous thunderstorm concluded the first track action at the Hungaroring.

Saturday

Saturday saw an improvement on times for the TPS-sponsored driver as he went almost a second quicker, and finished the first of Saturday’s action in 11th place. With qualifying being one of Tom’s strengths this season and the track being very difficult for overtaking - the importance of qualifying was greater than usual.

As the twenty-minute session elapsed, a lap time of 1:35.466 saw Tom end the session as the second fastest BMW in tenth-place for Saturday’s race.  Audi again dominated the session, this time with all six of their drivers finishing inside the top-seven places.

The start to race one saw Tom get off the line well but the flying Mercedes behind him slowly engulfed the Brit. Five drivers were side by side entering turn one and Tom took to the inside and rode the curb to avoid Paul Di Resta. Maintaining his starting position and the inside line, Tom was now on the outside entering turn two as again the track was filled with little room to move.

As Tom took the outside line and had his tyres on the white line, he was suddenly struck by the BMW of Maxime Martin as himself and Robert Wickens jostled for position. Being on the outside, the domino effect meant Tom was hit and spun round 360 degrees as bits flew off his car and was subsequently demoted all the way to the back of the pack.

On lap 9, the damage due to the contact with Tom concluded Maxime Martin’s race as he pulled up to the side of the track with a broken car. This meant the safety car was brought out and a few drivers took the opportunity to pit early. On the restart, Tom went for a change of tactics and this time took to the outside of turn one and managed to get round the Mercedes of Maro Engel. This promoted Tom up to P13 and when Mueller, Farfus and Auer came together, was then promoted even further up the order.

This high was short lived though as Tom began to struggle with his damaged BMW and the imbalance in the car was killing his tyres. One of the most technically challenging tracks on the calendar became even tougher for Blomqvist as he fought his BMW round every corner.

Despite a quick pit stop, Tom rejoined the race in 16th place – only to eventually retire, as his handling proved impossible, on lap 29 and finish a miserable first day in Budapest.

“I was hit immediately after the start and dropped right down the field, that was the end of my race. I’m very disappointed that it happened to me yet again. I have been turned three times in the five races of the season so far. I returned to the pit since there was no point in me carrying on with the race. The car was badly damaged and didn’t have any handling left.”

Sunday

Sunday saw Tom start the day with a 14th place finish in free practice three. Tom then went almost two seconds quicker after a posting a 1:35.282 lap time in qualifying to place him for the second time this weekend in 10th place.

Starting in 10th place for the final race of the weekend, Tom got off the line well but was not able to fend off the advancing Mercedes who demoted Tom back to 12th place. Tom, now with the Mercedes of Gary Paffett in front of him and the Mercedes of Robert Wickens behind, was able to withstand the initial pressure from Wickens through the opening laps and maintained his track position.

With the three early stoppers from yesterday reaching the podium, most cars took to the pits as early as lap one to take track position. Pitting at the end of lap 8, Tom entered the pits right behind Gary Paffett and Jamie Green. Last into his pit box, the Team RBR pit crew produced a fantastic pit stop – quicker than both Green and Paffett. However, not willing to risk an unsafe release, Tom paused in his pit box to slot in behind Paffett.

As the three cars rejoined the track, they were straight into the thick of things. Tom on cold tyres did his best to avoid any collision but ultimately lost out in the pitstops. Despite entering the pits together, Green rejoined in 9th, Paffet in 13th and Tom way down in 16th place – showing how detrimental time in the pits can be.

After Auer and Wittmann both retired, Tom was running in 14th place with only one minute left on the clock. Having cut the gap down to the Audi of Loic Duval in front, Tom saw his opportunity entering turn two. Lunging down the inside, Tom took the corner and had the line as the Audi suddenly turned in on him. Tom, clearly unhappy with the driving of Duval, raised his hand in frustration as Duval span and fell behind.

Crossing the line in 13th place, the Thunderhead-sponsored driver concluded a difficult weekend in Budapest where he was unable to pick up any points.

“It just wasn’t my race. I lost a few places at the start. After that it went quite well, but our strategy didn’t work today. Then we had an incident during the pit stop. We weren’t able to make up the deficit. But at least I made it to the finish line after a few unfortunate retirements.”

The DTM now moves back to Germany with round four of the season taking place on the streets of Norisring on the 30th June to the 2nd July.