until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Why Blomqvist is back in Formula E after ‘sour’ first stint

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

There was a time when the old NIO team dealt in some truly cringeworthy hyperbole on how it went racing.

Expensive agencies, marketing gurus on more money than the drivers and a pseudo hipster vibe that was mercilessly ridiculed in the Formula E paddock.

That would have been all digested readily had the team been a proposition of any note but it wasn’t, it was generally at the back and racing in a different postcode.

Tom Blomqvist, NIO 333, Formula E test

That was then, this is now. Reality arrived for the team last summer and mercilessly shook the whole entity like a snow globe and a long re-settling of its constituent parts started to fall in to place and more importantly some semblance of order.

A key part of that is Tom Blomqvist who arrives at the team with his enthusiasm re-born after a difficult start with the Andretti team in 2017.

His programme then was disrupted even before it began when his scheduled debut in Hong Kong was passed over for Kamui Kobayashi due to an interfering sponsor.

Tom Blomqvist, Andretti BMW, Formula E

His first race brought promise with an eighth place at Marrakesh but then the season tapered away and a clearly unhappy Blomqvist was replaced for the final races by Stephane Sarrazin.

For the genial Brit, come Kiwi, with a dash of virtuoso Swedish genealogy, there is a brief shudder even just recalling those days.

“I’m going to be totally honest, it kind of ended quite badly there [at Andretti] and I had a sour taste in my mouth, let’s say,” he tells The Race.

“There was a bit of something where I didn’t feel welcome from the start, maybe that’s just me, but I didn’t even do the first race which was strange and not ideal.

“I just didn’t seem to fit and I then had no desire to even really try Formula E again. It was kind of nice to get away from it for a while.”

Tom Blomqvist, Andretti, Formula E

I recall talking to Blomqvist while waiting for a flight out of Shanghai in November 2018. The chat was perhaps 20 minutes and the subject matter was varied but there wasn’t a single mention of Formula E. It was out of his system and the unedifying chapter in his career was plainly over.

Then, out of the blue, came an unexpected opportunity at Jaguar last summer.

At the last minute Blomqvist was asked to cover for James Calado who had a clashing commitment with his WEC team, AF Corse Ferrari, at Spa, which may require Blomqvist to come off the bench.

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He did so, and much enjoyed the events, despite little preparation.

“It wasn’t like normal race weekend, because everyone had been there for a week already,” he says.

“There was a risk that I stood in at the last second and just got absolutely annihilated, which was in my mind. I didn’t want to look silly, but at the same time I had nothing to lose, so I was quite relaxed.

Tom Blomqvist, Jaguar, Formula E

“I have to be really thankful to Jaguar, you know, they put zero pressure on me. I enjoyed Berlin and was, as a result, keener to get back on the grid.”

He performed brilliantly in qualifying, using the more advantageous track conditions artfully to his advantage and starting the penultimate race in sixth.

His unfamiliarity with the Jaguar I-Type4 told in the race as he dropped to 12th but in the circumstances it was more than just a fine effort.

“It really gave me a stronger feeling again for Formula E in the sense that I could get a strong lap together and could work positively with a team here again,” he says.

This shot in the arm proved a panacea for Blomqvist and his management team, headed by former McLaren and Ligier F1 driver Mark Blundell set to work.

There had been some links with NIO333 that Blomqvist had with unspecified individuals at the team but then a first test led to a second and by the end of October negotiations began on a deal to partner Turvey.

Tom Blomqvist, NIO 333, Formula E

“This whole thing here now, with NIO333, kind of stems from Berlin, really,” he says.

“To be honest I have a really nice feeling in the team. Oli is a great guy and there is a strong engineering focus and a kind of sense that there is a re-birth in a way.

“It’s going to be tough, I’m under no illusions about that. The field is unbelievable out there and we will have a battle but the good things we are all up for it and I am really positive heading in to the season.”

It’s a positivity that Blomqvist thought he’d never feel again in Formula E but as often occurs in motorsport, the lines between despair and hope are wafer thin.

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