Difference between revisions of "Thomas de Bock"

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Latest revision as of 07:48, 11 January 2020

Thomas De Bock
Nationality Flag of Belgium svg.png Belgian
Born 10th June, 1986
Heusy, Belgium
Formula One
Debut Season 2009
Latest Season 2010
Current Team n/a
Car Number n/a
Former Teams Toro Rosso, Renault
Races 46 (45 starts)
Championships 0
Victories 0
Podiums 1
Points 77
Pole Positions 0
Fastest Laps 0
First Race 2009 Australian Grand Prix
First Victory n/a
Last Victory n/a
Last Race 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix II
Best Finish 13th (2010)
F1RWRS/ARWS
Debut Season 2010
Latest Season 2018
Current Team
Car Number
Former Teams Flag of the United Kingdom svg.png Rosenforth
Flag of Jamaica svg.png Calinetic
Flag of Belgium svg.png Gillet ENB
Flag of France svg.png Voeckler
Races 135 (126 starts)
Championships 1 (2017)
Victories 8
Podiums 25
Points 245
Pole Positions 2
Fastest Laps 4
First Race 2010 German Grand Prix
First Victory 2011 Australian Grand Prix
Last Victory 2017 Chinese Grand Prix
Last Race 2018 Japanese Grand Prix
Best Finish 1st (2017)


Thomas De Bock (born June 10th 1986 in Heusy, Belgium) is a Belgian racing driver known for competing in Formula One and F1RWRS. He is also known by his nickname, "The Ram", a literal translation of his surname and a reference to his frequent incidents.

Early life career

De Bock was born near Verviers, less than 20km away from the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Later on, amidst political crises in Belgium regarding the possible splitting of the country, De Bock spoke out against Flemish separatism, citing himself as an example. His four grandparents are Walloon, Flemish, Bruxellois and French.

De Bock first got into karting at the age of 8, when he and his family had moved to Malaysia. The Formula 1 Grand Prix had not yet been organized, and there was little knowledge about motorsport, apart from sports cars and motorcycles in Shah Alam and Johor. The advantage was that karts were much cheaper than in Europe. His family quickly noticed his interest in karting, and bought a racing kart, which Thomas used to compete in the Malaysian junior go-kart championship, in which he finished second. In 1996, De Bock won the junior championship in his third season. In early 1997, Thomas returned to Belgium, and his results in Malaysia managed to get him into the Precision Motorsports young driver program. He didn't waste any time, and was runner-up in the 1997 Belgian junior kart championship, a title he won the next year, also winning the Benelux championship. In 2000, De Bock was runner-up in the European karting championship, having won the Dutch junior championship in 1999. These results were enough to give the 14-year-old De Bock a seat in the Belgian Formula Ford championship for 2001.

Thomas was fourth in his first season, winning the 2002 season easily, with six wins out of ten races, and quickly moved to British Formula Renault at the age of 17 in 2003. There, De Bock was straddled in an underpowered car and was unable to crack the top 5 in the championship. He still managed to put on some impressive performances, including a lights-to-flag win at Snetterton in 2004. His impressive performances saw him become part of the Red Bull young driver program in 2006 at the age of 19, earning him a seat in International Formula 3. He was only able to finish third in the series with three wins, but his dominant victory at Macao was enough to get him a drive in GP2 for 2007. He wasn't impressive, only finishing 11th with a handful of podiums, but his good turn of form in 2008 saw him net second place in the championship with five race wins, enough to guarantee a Formula One seat at Toro Rosso for 2009.

Formula One and first steps in the F1RWRS

De Bock made his début in the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. He quickly made a name for himself by finishing seventh in his first race out of 11 finishers, just ahead of teammate Sébastien Bourdais. However, this performance would not be repeated, and he spent the first half of the season being thouroughly outpaced by the Frenchman, with a best finish of 13th place in Germany, while Bourdais scored four points. He did, however, prove to be very reliable, only retiring twice. After the Hungarian Grand Prix, he was fired by Toro Rosso and replaced by the Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari.

Despite this setback, De Bock immediately set about looking for another drive in Formula One. In the meantime, he dabbled in GT racing and IndyCar late in 2009. During the winter, two opportunities arose. The first was a drive for Renault in Formula One alongside Romain Grosjean, the other was to enter the driver pool for the first season in the F1 breakaway series F1RWRS. However, with Daniel Melrose and Dave Simpson choosing to take part in both championships, De Bock followed them and would attempt to cope with two world championships at once.

The 2010 season proved much more successful for De Bock. He scored points from the first race, with 8th position ahead of teammate Grosjean, who came 10th. Indeed, De Bock generally had the measure of Grosjean throughout the first half of the season, with fourth place in the first race at Detroit and what would be his only podium with third place in the second race at Melbourne. He continued to show pace at other moments, including second place in first qualifying at Monza. However, at Donington, he was given a suspended one-race ban for causing an accident with Sebastian Vettel. This ban was triggered in Hungary after he ignored blue flags, and he missed the first race in Singapore, replaced by Nicolas Prost. Grosjean had a spectacular return to form in the second half of the season, with four top five finishes including a podium at Monza. Eventually, he passed De Bock in the points standings. The Belgian finished the season in 13th position, on 75 points to Grosjean's 90.

After an underwhelming season, De Bock was only Renault's third choice for the second car, and sure enough, Prost secured the drive for the full season, leaving De Bock out of a Formula One drive. Instead, he decided to concentrate on F1RWRS full-time.

F1RWRS

2010: Rosenforth

De Bock choosing to join the theoretically frontrunning Rosenforth Engineering team seemed like a good idea at first. However, while his teammate Frank Zimmer fought at the front of the field for the whole year, De Bock was unable to get any speed out of his car except for a few occasions.

There were two of those occasions, the first being the Luxembourg Grand Prix. Despite a bad performance in qualifying and a dismal start to the race, he made the most of his strategy and made his way up to fifth place, eventually dropping to seventh at the end of the race, scoring his only points of the year. In Bahrain, he managed to qualify in tenth position, but failed to make an impact during the race and finished in 14th position.

Sick of his lack of pace at Rosenforth, De Bock wanted to change teams, and was hired by Team Calinetic as teammate to defending champion Gary Cameron.

2011: Calinetic

At first, it seemed that De Bock had made a mistake by switching teams, as he was regularly beaten in testing by Phoenix McAllister, his replacement at Rosenforth. With the addition of pre-qualifying, there would also be a distinct possibility of not even starting the race. De Bock fell foul of the rule twice during the year, but then again, so did most of the drivers.

As it turned out, De Bock had indeed made the right choice. While the rosenforth was quicker, the team folded mid-season due to intra-team tensions pushing McAllister to resort to legal action over the team. Meanwhile, De Bock silenced all the naysayers at the Bavarian Grand Prix, after a consistant drive saw him net second place, his first podium. In the next races, he couldn't make a mark, apart from a brief second place at Oschesleben during the pitstop phase.

His next good performance came at his home race, where getting in trouble less than most of the other drivers got him in the lead, before a collision dropped his to third place. With 18 points, Thomas was now fifth in the championship. Then followed five races without a single point, apart from the Kent Grand Prix where, despite finishing outside the points, he managed to score the point for pole position, the first of his career.

His next tangible result was a good one. At Bathurst, Thomas was one of the drivers who avoided the lap 1 carnage, and he took pole position in the second race. He was passed early on by Ashley Watkinson and eventually finished second, but a few more points were welcome.

From then on, Thomas decided to stay calm and bring the points home instead of giving it his all and risk not scoring. In the last four races, he scored thrice, finishing either seventh or eighth. He crashed out of the United States Grand Prix. He scored a total of 34 points that year, a career high, tying for eighth place in the championship.

In the middle of the season, Thomas announced his intention to join the rising Belgian ENB team to bring some experience to the outfit that was new to top-tier open-wheel racing. With the buyout by Gillet, the team looked promising.

2012: Ecurie Nationale Belge

As it turned out, the decision would be a bad one in the short term. While Calinetic failed to pre-qualify for most of the races, they scored high in the first three races, while ENB failed to score at all until the Australian Grand Prix at Bathurst.

The team was in a desperate state at that point. Out of 24 entries, there were 10 DNPQs and five retirements, with the rest being finishes out of the points. Aurelien failed to pre-qualify for the race, what would turn out to be the team's last failure to pre-qualify. Thomas, meanwhile, qualified in the top ten for the second time that season. The race was of such high attrition that only nine cars finished, with none of the frontrunners making it to the end. Thomas stayed out of trouble and picked up an unbelievable maiden victory on his 31st start, a record later broken by Kay Lon.

He later finished third in the season-ending Indianapolis 500, worth double-points. 15 points at Bathurst and 16 at Indy meant that by scoring just twice, he had racked up 31 points, enough for twelfth in the championship, a position that would never have been considered just a few races earlier. With new rules to be enforced for 2013, as well as a complete buyout by Gillet convinced Thomas to stay aboard. In those times, stability would be the best option.

2013-14: Gillet

2013

The season didn't start well for Thomas, as he was slower than Moll from pre-season testing onwards. Even worse, he retired from the opening race due to a driver error.

With the issue found to be qualifying pace, Thomas started to work harder in qualifying, and immediately put his car on the second row of the grid in Mexico. He stayed up front during the race and was in a solid third place, ahead of eventual winner Kay Lon, before a puncture caused his third successive retirement. It was clear that while the Gillet was undoubtedly a quick car, reliability was cruelly lacking, and that the team would need all the finishes they could get.

At Dallas, the Gillets filled up the second row of the grid, and thanks to unreliability by the early leaders looked set for a one-two finish. However, Moll's car called it quits with a few laps remaining, but Thomas took his second career win. In the same situation at Monaco, Thomas led most of the last part of the race before suffering from suspension issues with less than ten laps to go, leaving Sammy Jones then Moll to take the lead, and eventually the race win.

At Oulton Park, despite a disappointing showing in qualifying, De Bock made his way up the field and eventually finished fourth. This would be his second-to-last finish of the season. His last finish was a good one, however. At the Norisring, Thomas qualified fourth and moved up to third. Thanks to his one-stop strategy, he found himself in the lead and never let go, scoring his second win of the season the day before his 27th birthday.

That didn't stop him from putting on good performances, such as running second in Belgium with just a few laps left, or retiring at Estoril while fighting for a podium with Ben Fleet. He was also in second place at the Chinese Grand Prix before retiring with 20 laps left. With the promise of increased reliability (due to Gillet being one of the only teams to persevere with their chassis by upgrading it), 2014 looked promising.

2014

The car's promising pace in testing didn't immediately translate to pace, and Thomas was well in the midfield for qualifying at the Tasman Grand Prix. He then proceeded to make up the lost ground, and he reached the top ten on lap 30, cracking the points ten laps later. However, with ten laps to go, he was involved in an accident with Nicolas Steele, Jack Christopherson and Mark Dagnall. In eighth at that point, he was able to continue virtually undamaged, and thanks to late-race problems experienced by the drivers ahead, he salvaged the final point in sixth position.

At Bathurst, he qualified fourth and used the attrition ahead of him to win the race and take the championship lead. He kept it until Mexico, where fifth place wasn't near enough to fend off defending champion Mark Dagnall. Thanks to more good fortune at Brands Hatch, Thomas won his second race of the season, leading home Gillet's first ever 1-2 finish.

However, he was unable to mount a consistent challenge to Dagnall, after an uninspired German Grand Prix was followed by an avoidable mistake at the Italian Grand Prix, where he crashed out of a certain podium position. He partially made up for it in Cyprus by finishing in an anonymous sixth place, and was set to finish on the podium once more in Zandvoort had his pit crew not made a mistake when changing a wheel. Remaining in mathematical contention to the title with three races left in the season, he eventually retired in all three, ending up seventh in the championship, just three points behind Moll, who was fourth.

2015

The following seasons turned out to be difficult for the Gillet team. Dwindling finances meant that the chassis was fundamentally flawed, and while reliability was finally on the team's side, pace was not. Points came easily, but they were minor points and not podiums. Both De Bock and Moll scored five times over the season, but only a total of 27 were scored.

This time, De Bock was the top scorer, with 18 points thanks to his two podiums, finishing second in Monaco and an emotional third in Belgium, his first finish at his home race since his third place in 2011. After that drive, though, he and the team failed to score any more points (save for Moll's fifth place at Zandvoort), even suffering the embarrassment of failing to prequalify at Fuji. He finished the season in eighth position. It was the first time since 2011 that he hadn't won a single Grand Prix.

2016

Initial testing proved very grim for Gillet, as the car was not only slow, but unreliable as well. While the second half of this statement held true throughout the season, De Bock was able to show flashes of pace on quite a few occasions along the difficult year. Indeed, out of 32 entries, the team only recorded seven finishes, the least of any team (bar Melrose Racing Team) to have pre-qualified for every event.

While the car always remained slow in qualifying (resulting in five races spent in pre-qualifying in the middle of the season), De Bock usually managed to race it towards the very front when it didn't fail. Indeed, he scored in every race he finished. In the New South Wales Grand Prix (Gillet's high point of the season), De Bock briefly had a chance of winning, but a botched pit stop relegated him to second place behind Philippe Nicolas. Later on, he scored another podium in Monaco with third place, picking the Driver of the Race award and his first ever fastest lap. His other finishes (and therefore points finishes), came in Long Beach and Fuji, with sixth place and fifth place respectively.

Chronic reliability issues plagued the team, and De Bock was robbed of certain points on more than one occasion. Moll, meanwhile, was unable to score in any of his three finishes, coming close at Bathurst but spinning on the final lap and ending up seventh. For the first time since 2012, Moll failed to score, and De Bock again beat his teammate in the championship, finishing 11th with 15 points. Despite his successes, De Bock also gained a reputation for his numerous on-track incidents, earning two Reject of the Race awards (in Germany and China). These incidents earned him the nickname "the Ram", also in reference to the translation of his surname from Dutch.

Complete Motorsport Results

Career Summary

Year Series Team Position
1994 Malaysian Junior Go-Karts Independent 2nd
1995 Malaysian Junior Go-Karts Independent 3rd
1996 Malaysian Junior Go-Karts Independent 1st
1997 Belgian Junior Kart Championship Precision Motorsports Junior Team 2nd
1998 Belgian Junior Kart Championship Precision Motorsports Junior Team 1st
Benelux Junior Kart Championship Precision Motorsports Junior Team 1st
1999 Dutch Junior Kart Championship Precision Motorsports Junior Team 1st
2000 European Junior Kart Championship Precision Motorsports Junior Team 1st
2001 Belgian Formula Ford Boutsen Motorsports 4th
2002 Belgian Formula Ford Boutsen Motorsports 1st
2003 British Formula Renault Apotex Scorpio Motorsport 13th
2004 British Formula Renault Eurotek Motorsport 10th
2005 British Formula Renault Eurotek Motorsports 11th
2006 International Formula 3 Carlin Motorsport 3rd
Macau Grand Prix Carlin Motorsport 1st
2007 GP2 Trust Team Arden 11th
2008 GP2 Trust Team Arden 2nd
2009 Formula 1 Scuderia Toro Rosso 22nd
2010 Formula 1 Renault Racing Team 13th
F1RWRS Rosenforth Engineering 19th
2011 F1RWRS Team Calinetic 8th
2012 F1RWRS Ecurie Nationale Belge 12th
2013 F1RWRS Gillet - Ecurie Nationale Belge 7th
2014 F1RWRS Gillet - Ecurie Nationale Belge 7th
2015 F1RWRS Gillet - Ecurie Nationale Belge 8th
2016 F1RWRS Gillet - Ecurie Nationale Belge 11th
2017 F1RWRS Gillet - Ecurie Nationale Belge 1st
DScity Voeckler Renault
2018 ARWS DScity Voeckler Renault 7th
2019 IndyCar Team Penske 11th

Complete Formula One Results

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 WDC Points
2009 Scuderia Toro Rosso Toro Rosso STR4 Ferrari 056 2.4 V8 AUS
7
MAL
18
CHN
17
BHR
20
ESP
Ret
MON
Ret
TUR
19
GBR
17
GER
11
HUN
16
EUR
BEL
ITA
SIN
JPN
BRA
ABU
22nd 2
2010 Renault F1 Team Renault R30 Renault RS27-2010 BHR I
8
BHR II
Ret
USA I
4
USA II
Ret
JPN I
18
JPN II
10
AUS I
Ret
AUS II
3
TUR I
9
TUR II
Ret
EUR I
12
EUR II
15
MON I
14
MON II
7
GBR I
12
GBR II
Ret
IRL I
12
IRL II
12
GER I
5
GER II
9
ESP I
9
ESP II
7
ITA I
7
ITA II
13
HUN I
11
HUN II
13
SIN I
EX
SIN II
Ret
KOR I
10
KOR II
Ret
BRA I
7
BRA II
11
URU I
16
URU II
11
ABU I
18
ABU II
9
13th 75

Complete F1RWRS Results

Year Team Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 DC Pts
2010 Rosenforth Engineering Rosenforth RF10 Jaguar AJ-V8 GER
18
LUX
7
SAX
18
CHN
17
TAS
19
BHR
13
BEL
16
GBR
17
AUS
19
19th 4
2011 Team Calinetic Calinetic CAL2 Ford Boss 302 V8 BAV
2
GER
DNPQ
SAX
14
LUX
Ret
BEL
3
GBR
DNPQ
ENG
10
KEN
13
NED
14
TAS
9
AUS
2
NSW
7
SUR
8
CHN
8
USA
Ret
=8th 34
2012 Equipe de Course Belge ENB JC02 Gillet G32 V10 BAV
Ret
SAX
15
GER
DNPQ
LUX
Ret
BEL
Ret
NED
DNPQ
GBR
13
KEN
DNPQ
ENG
DNPQ
TAS
Ret
SUR
15
NSW
18
AUS
1
CHN
14
USA
16
500
3
12th 31
2013 Gillet Ecurie Nationale Belge Gillet ENB113 Gillet GV10 TAS
Ret
AUS
Ret
MEX
Ret
USA
1
MON
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
4
GER
1
NED
Ret
BEL
Ret
POR
Ret
MED
Ret
MAC
Ret
CHN
Ret
JPN
Ret
BRA
Ret
7th 23
2014 Gillet Ecurie Nationale Belge Gillet ENB114 Gillet GV10 TAS
6
AUS
1
BRA
Ret
MEX
5
USA
Ret
MON
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
1
GER
8
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
MED
6
NED
Ret
MAC
Ret
CHN
Ret
JPN
Ret
7th 24
2015 Gillet Ecurie Nationale Belge Gillet ENB115 Gillet GV10 TAS
4
AUS
5
MED
12
MON
2
MEX
4
USA
Ret
CAN
Ret
GBR
11
GER
Ret
BEL
3
AUT
Ret
ITA
12
NED
9
CHN
Ret
JPN
DNPQ
BRA
11
8th 18
2016 Gillet Ecurie Nationale Belge Gillet ENB116 Gillet GV11 AUS
Ret
NSW
2
GBR
Ret
ITA
Ret
AUT
Ret
CAN
Ret
USS
6
USN
Ret
GER
Ret
NED
Ret
MON
3
BEL
Ret
MEX
Ret
ARG
Ret
CHN
Ret
JPN
5
11th 15
2017 Gillet Ecurie Nationale Belge Gillet ENB117 Gillet GV11B AUS
DNQ
NSW
Ret
GBR
DNPQ
1st 69
DSCity Voeckler Renault Voeckler VGPOne Renault RSXXI-17 ITA
2
AUT
3
CAN
2
USS
4†
USN
2
GER
Ret
NED
2
BEL
1
MON
4
MOR
1
ARG
11†
JPN
12†
CHN
1
2018 DScity Voeckler Renault Voeckler VGPTwo Renault RSXXII AUS
Ret
NSW
Ret
ITA
Ret
MAR
3
CAL
6
USA
6
CAN
6
GBR
Ret
AUT
2
GER
Ret
SCA
3
BEL
EX
MON
3
RSA
Ret
BRA
Ret
ARG
Ret
JPN
Ret
CHN
EX
7th 25
  • * Season in progress
  • † Driver did not finish the Grand Prix, but was classified as they completed over 90% of the race distance.
Sporting Accolades
Preceded by:
Rhys Davies
2016
F1RWRS Champion
2017
Succeeded by:
Terry Hawkin (ARWS)
2018