It has been a challenging start to the Italian ABB FIA Formula E World Championship weekend for the NIO 333 Formula E Team. The undulating street circuit, with unforgiving tight turns and changeable weather conditions, made for a tough first day of the 2021 Rome EPrix.
Following an incident in Free Practice 1 and a Red Flag situation limiting his running in FP2, Tom Blomqvist, in the #88 NIO 333 FE 001, ran in Group 4 of Qualifying this morning. Unfortunately, he was handed a three-place grid penalty by the Stewards for ‘entering the fast lane early’ and started his race from P21. However, after avoiding numerous on track incidents and showing a display of solid race craft, the Anglo-Swedish driver took the chequered flag behind the safety car in P11 but was awarded his first Formula E Championship point for P10 after all post-race penalties.
Oliver Turvey stepped out of the #8 NIO 333 FE 001 injury-free after another incident in FP1 which inflicted substantial damage to the tub of his challenger. Oliver was therefore unable to participate in the FP2 or Qualifying sessions and would have to start the race from the pits (with an incident penalty) should his car be ready in time. Sterling efforts by the team of a mammoth rebuild of #8 came to fruition with only minutes left on the race clock. With the intension of shaking down his car, Oliver sat ready to leave the NIO 333 FE Team garage when a late safety car was deployed and under which Round 3 of the Rome EPrix concluded.
Tom Blomqvist, NIO 333 FE 001 #88
Qualifying Group 4 - Race Grid Position: P19 (after post qualifying penalties, P21) Round 3, Provisional Race Result: P11
“First of all, I just want to say thanks to the team, to my mechanics who worked super hard after FP1 to get me out again. Not running in FP2 due to the Red Flag was disappointing and that kind of put me on the back foot today really – not having any push laps before Qualifying, so that was my first proper shot. It’s never nice going in to Qualifying blind, so I didn’t drive the best lap of my career in Qualy, I just wanted to survive. Unfortunately, starting at the back, we had a small penalty as well, which didn’t help things. Then the race was pretty wild actually. It started to rain as we were on the dummy grid and then it was just chaos - I just tried to survive, save a bit of energy at the start. Then people basically fell off in front and we were able to just scrape a point out of it, so I think we have to be kind of happy after a tough day. We have to focus on tomorrow and try to learn from today and see.”
Oliver Turvey, NIO 333 FE 001 #8
Qualifying Group 2 – No Time Set Race Grid Position: Pits Round 3 Race: Did Not Start
“It was a really tough day, which I apologise to the team for, after an unfortunate set of circumstances led to the incident at the end of Free Practice which meant we missed qualifying and the start of the race. The whole team worked extremely hard to get the car ready and we were ready to go towards the end of the race, but unfortunately, we were not allowed on track due to a safety car. I would like to thank all the mechanics and team for all their hard work to get the car back together and I will give my best to reward everyone with a strong race tomorrow."
Christian Silk, NIO 333 FE Team Principal
“This certainly was a tough day for the team, from Practice 1 through to the end of the race. Obviously having both cars crash in P1 put the team on the back foot, especially at a new challenging circuit where getting maximum mileage is so important for both the drivers and the engineers to learn the maximum about the track. On car #8, despite the best effort of our crew, it was not possible to get the car repaired in time - the damage was just too great. On the other side of the garage Tom had a solid race. He was also lacking laps due to the incidents from this morning, but Tom quickly buckled down to the job in hand and battled his way through picking up a solid P11 (now P10) at the end of the race. Given the difficult day the team has experienced grabbing a Championship point is best result we could have hoped for. To finish on a positive Tom’s pace in the race looked good, so we can go into tomorrow with fresh optimism. I would just like to say thanks again to the crew, I think you would call today ‘character building’!”
Round 4 of the 2021 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship takes place in Rome tomorrow, with Free Practice 3 starting at 07:00 CET.