By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer
In a ABB FIA Formula E Championship race organized as much by attrition as it was by passing, the lone driver making his all-electric series debut delivered an impressively clean performance to finish in the points.
Making his first Formula E start for MS&AD Andretti Formula E, former DTM driver Tom Blomqvist put together a consistent campaign to score an eighth-place result in the Marrakesh E-Prix.
“It was a bit of an eye opener,” Blomqvist said after the race. “I got a bit lucky, I would say, to finish in eighth place.
“To be honest, I just wanted to get some laps under my belt because I literally had no idea what to expect. I had done the work in the simulator but it’s very different in the race environment. There’s definitely a lot of work that needs to be done on my side to try and figure out how to better manage the race. It’s just so different from what I’ve done in the past that every time I get in the car, it’s just gonna get better and better as I learn more and more.”
Starting in 12th after scraping the wall during his qualifying attempt – the biggest mistake the British shoe made on the day – Blomqvist got through the opening lap clean and issue-free.
From there the battle was on.
Blomqvist, 24, rose as high as 10th in the first stint, and while he later dropped to 14th, a group of passes and mistakes from his fellow competitors allowed him to sneak back into the back half of the top 10.
In the closing stages Blomqvist held the 10th position, but a crash from Edoardo Mortara allowed him to cross the line in ninth. Moments later a penalty was assessed to initial seventh-place finisher Maro Engel, elevating the Englishman to a final classification of eighth.
The rookie was surprised to learn of his positive result after struggling to grasp the all-electric tour’s unique races and cars.
“I’m very happy to get eighth, I was surprised that I finished on the track in ninth because I didn’t know what was happening around me on track and I thought I was really struggling in the back of the field,” Blomqvist said. “There’s a lot to do to try and make the most of my energy management and communication with the engineers.
There’s so many things that you really need to be on top of in Formula E and being in my first race I have a way to go but we can be happy about it. I just want to say thank you to MS&AD Insurance, MS Amlin, BMW and Andretti for giving me such an exciting opportunity, I can’t wait to continue the season in Santiago.”
Blomqvist’s result didn’t go unnoticed by his team, who watched as veteran teammate Antonio Felix da Costa struggled through the E-Prix after a heavy shunt in qualifications en-route to a pointless 14th-place result.
“In the No. 27 car we had the debut for Tom Blomqvist, his first time in a Formula E event and we are encouraged by what we saw,” Co-Team Principle Roger Griffiths said. “The speed that we saw in the Valencia test was here in Marrakesh.
“(Blomqvist) had a really exciting qualifying session before he hit the wall which probably cost him half a second on a lap that could have made Super Pole. But, he had a good race, kept out of trouble and picked up some valuable points for the team by finishing in eighth. We come away again encouraged by the pace we had in the cars.”
The next opportunity for Blomqvist to compete in Formula E will come when the series heads to Chile for the Santiago E-Prix on Feb. 3. Andretti will see two rookies in their machines on Sunday when the paddock returns to Marrakesh for a rookie test.