Tom Blomqvist will return to Formula E full-time as Oliver Turvey’s team-mate at NIO333 for the 2021 season.
The British driver’s deal was finalised in recent days after he had completed several tests for NIO333 in the UK over the last seven weeks.
He beat Daniel Abt and Tom Dillmann, both of who also tested recently, to the drive.
The 26-year-old has previously driven a part season for Andretti in 2018 and also made a cameo appearance for Jaguar in two of the six Berlin races last August.
His best result in the category came at the Marrakesh E-Prix in January 2018 when he finished eighth.
Since then he has competed mostly in sportscars racing with BMW in IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, but since slipping off the BMW factory roster he’s been with AF Corse and the Hub Auto team in the 2020 GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup and 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge.
The Race says
Blomqvist came back onto the Formula E radar last summer when he deputised at Jaguar for James Calado at short notice for the final two races in Berlin.
He worked some serious qualifying wonders, making the most of advantageous track conditions but still impressing mightily in a car he had not previously turned a wheel in.
It said much for Blomqvist’s acknowledged skill that he completed both races and gained valuable education of Gen2 machinery, although he had conducted a couple of BMW private development tests back in 2018.
That came after a difficult seven races with the team which for the final season of Gen1 competition was known as MS&AD Andretti in deference to its then sponsor.
It was the same sponsor that insisted in benching Blomqvist even before he had made his first race start, as it lobbied the team to install Kamui Kobayashi in the cars for one weekend only in Hong Kong.
It was bizarre, and an omen for Blomqvist – who lost out on valuable track time for the shortlived PR stunt.
Despite a solid eighth position in Marrakesh, Blomqvist never settled in the team, or perhaps was never allowed to settle and he was soon out of favour despite the fact that his team-mate, Antonio Felix da Costa, could muster only three points scoring finishes himself.
By the time of the Berlin race in May it was all over. Just six races in Blomqvist was cast aside for Stephane Sarrazin, who failed to trouble the scorers at all.
It left a bitter taste initially, as Blomqvist had got the drive after a less than subtle shootout at pre-season Valencia testing with Alexander Sims, who ironically went on to take over the seat Blomqvist was forced to vacate.
It was another peculiar chapter in Andretti’s driver odyssey, and little did we know there were still several more to come involving da Costa and Sims himself.
For Blomqvist there was some recalibrating to do but as recently as this August he held little hope of getting back on the grid.
A chance with a more organised and cohesive NIO333 may just be the tonic for Blomqvist.
It is an opportunity to come back fighting and take a leaf out of Maximilian Guenther and Alex Lynn’s books in proving that you can’t keep a quick man down for long.
How the drive was secured
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity and the trust that the team has placed in me, and I can’t wait to repay them with success on track,” said Blomqvist.
“It has been great to get to know the team recently and build those relationships – together we are all highly motivated for the season ahead and the positive atmosphere is brilliant to be a part of.”
Blomqvist had looked likely to take up a reserve role this season but an invitation from NIO333 to test in September triggered strong interest from the team for him to partner up with Turvey.
Turvey will drive for a sixth straight season for the team which morphed from Team China Racing to NEXTEV and then NIO from 2015 to 2019.
It changed its name to NIO333 in deference to new owner Lisheng Racing and its racing brand last autumn.
NIO333 recently confirmed that it had homologated a new powertrain for 2021 and has completed the majority of its private manufacturer test days with the new car, which will be designated the NIO 333 FE 001.
“We have a quick and experienced driving pairing now, with Oliver continuing with us for his sixth consecutive full season, and I am confident that the pairing shall be a successful one,” commented NIO team principal Christian Silk.
“Since the season six finale in Berlin we have completed an impressive amount of testing mileage with the NIO 333 001 development chassis and made a very promising start with our new powertrain package in terms of reliability.
“Season seven will be a fiercely contested competition; however, I feel that we are in a great position going into the FIA world championship and the whole team at NIO333 is looking forward to the exciting challenges ahead.”
2021 Formula E driver line-up so far
DS Techeetah: Antonio Felix da Costa, Jean-Eric Vergne
Nissan e.Dams: Sebastien Buemi, Oliver Rowland
Mercedes: Stoffel Vandoorne, Nyck de Vries
Envision Virgin: Robin Frijns, Nick Cassidy
BMW i Andretti: Maximilian Guenther, Jake Dennis
Audi Sport Abt: Lucas di Grassi, Rene Rast
Jaguar: Sam Bird, Mitch Evans
Porsche: Andre Lotterer, Pascal Wehrlein
Mahindra: Alexander Sims, Alex Lynn
Venturi: Edoardo Mortara, Norman Nato
Dragon: Sergio Sette Camara, Nico Mueller
NIO333: Oliver Turvey, Tom Blomqvist
Drivers in italics rumoured or not yet officially confirmed