13th September 2017
It was another tough weekend for Tom Blomqvist in the 2017 DTM season as bad luck got in the way of converting good qualifying positions into good results.
Heading to the Nürburgring on the back of a difficult weekend at Zandvoort, Blomqvist was looking to bounce back and continue his recent run of good results at the Nürburgring, which included a podium finish in last year’s race.
The historic track, that has hosted the DTM since 1984, is notorious for its varied weather conditions. Living up to its reputation, Friday’s free practice session was held in extremely wet conditions. Fighting the horrendous rain, the Thunderhead-sponsored driver did his best to finish the first session of the weekend in 7th place as the rain fell for the duration of the practice.
Saturday morning started with rainfall in the Eifel region and on a wet track, Tom finished the morning’s practice session in 14th place, struggling in the poor conditions.
Qualifying for race one began in wet conditions and most of the field was straight out on track with wet weather tyres to help disperse the water from the asphalt and prepare the surface for slick tyres. As the session hit the halfway stage, all of the field came into the pits to switch their tyres and headed back out onto the drying 3.629-kilometre Grand Prix circuit for the remainder of the session.
With timing the key to a good qualifying result, Tom was one of the last across the finishing line and took provisional pole with a 1:27.044 lap time. As the chequered flag waved and the final remaining cars came across the line, Tom dropped down to 6th place.
Getting off the line slowly for the start of race one, Tom was on the back foot and found himself being pushed onto the inside grass as the field headed down to turn one. Getting back on the track and finding a way around the first corner, Tom was struck from behind and this contact sent his gearbox into neutral.
Stuck in neutral, Tom’s BMW M4 DTM eventually found first gear as the rest of the field left the Mercedes-Arena. Dropping almost twenty seconds behind the leader, Tom was in last position with a lot of work to do to get himself back up the field. With the pace of his BMW clear to see, Tom soon fought his way back up the order as he passed three Audis and the Mercedes of Edo Mortara before the sun appeared and the track began to dry.
With the track looking like it could be ready for slicks, Tom pitted on lap fifteen with the first round of stoppers and a few laps later was the fastest man on track. Looking like slicks were the ideal tyre choice, the majority of the field joined Tom on dry tyres but with twenty minutes remaining, disaster struck.
Rain returned to the Eifel region, meaning Tom’s good progress was completely undone as his slick tyres were now redundant and the drivers, who had remained on the wets, were gifted a good result.
Staying out of his slicks, as some drivers pitted for a second time back onto wets, Tom fought the conditions to cross the line in 16th place to round off a ‘strange’ race at the Nürburgring.
“It was a strange race. I got hit in the first turn and then I had problems with finding first gear. That put me back into last place. The car was pretty good but we did not have the right strategy. We changed to slicks, but then it started to rain again. Our tactics simply weren’t right.”
Sunday started with free practice in dry conditions and Tom continued to showcase his strong pace in the sunshine. With times almost six-seconds quicker than Saturday’s qualifying, Tom finished the session in 5th place with a 1:21.520 lap time.
A dry qualifying saw an extremely tight session as nine-tenths separated the top-fifteen places, with Tom qualifying in 5th place with a 1:21.135 lap time, just two-tenths off fastest man, Marco Wittmann.
Getting off the line superbly in race two, Tom was already fighting his way into the top-four as Tom tried to make a move around the outside of Wickens through the Mercedes-Arena. As Wickens closed the door, Tom was forced to back out to avoid contact and subsequently allowed Farfus and Spengler to get through – dropping back to 7th place.
Pitting on the ninth lap, a good stop from Team RBM saw Tom rejoin the track just ahead of the early stoppers of Augusto Farfus and Gary Paffett. With Tom on colder tyres, he put up little defence to Augusto Farfus, allowing the Brazilian to get past. Next behind Tom was Gary Paffett and as Tom began to get his tyres to optimum temperature, Paffett attacked and passed Tom.
As Tom’s tyres finally got up to temperature, he began closing back up to Paffett and heading down into turn one, launched his attack on his fellow countryman. Shooting deep into turn one, Tom took to the outside of Paffett before switching to the outside of the Mercedes-Arena to take the inside line for turn four and forced his way through.
Closing up to Farfus and Spengler, the trio of BMWs were then beginning to be slowed down by the Audi of Nico Mueller - who was yet to perform his mandatory stop. Eventually finding his way through, Tom was quickly passed by the Audis of Ekstrom and Green, who had pitted later meaning Tom could do little to fight off their cars on fresh rubber.
As Tom ran out of DRS and the race entered its final few minutes. Tom and Paffett were once again going wheel-to-wheel, fighting for final points paying position. Trading places a few times, Paffett eventually made his DRS advantage count and got past Tom heading into turn one. On the final lap of the race however, Paffett and Martin came to blows through the chicane, allowing Tom to sail through into 10th place to pick up the final point on offer.
A top-ten result rounded off a disappointing weekend for Tom in Germany.
“It was a big battle, right from the word go. The start was OK and I came into the pits early. My car was OK and there was a lot of action on track. There was only one thing going on: fighting, fighting, fighting. At least I managed to score a point. I am sure it was a great race for the fans to watch.”
Next up for Tom is a trip to Austria for the penultimate round of the 2017 season. Races 15 and 16 will take place at Spielberg, 22nd - 24th September.
#31 Tom Blomqvist
FP1: 7th (1:38.022, +1.063)
FP2: 14th (1:37.148, +1.213)
Q1: 6th (1:37.148, +1.076)
Race 1: 16th
FP3: 5th (1:21.520, +0.262)
Q2: 5th (1:21.135, +0.199)
Race 2: 10th