Tatiana Calderon: “I’m there because I’m capable of doing the job”
Tatiana Calderon is breaking down gender barriers in motorsport, with the Colombian-born racer holding the test driver role for Alfa Romeo Racing Formula 1 team.
Recently, it was announced that she would drive in Formula 2 this season, becoming the first woman to line-up in the series’ history. Competing with BWT Arden, Tatiana takes the step up from GP3.
In addition, in October of last year she made history by becoming the first female Latin American driver to drive a Formula 1 car.
She had her first taste of F1 machinery with Sauber at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City in a promotional event. Two months later, she had another outing at Fiorano in a two-day test event.
“I’ve always dreamt of racing in F2 because it’s so competitive,” Tatiana says. “The races are sometimes even better than F1 because you never know who’s going to win.
“It took a while to get the budget together and to get the team in place. I’m really happy that I managed to secure a seat with BWT Arden, and I look forward to the start of the season.”
During her time in GP3, Tatiana admits things didn’t always go her way and she has been open about the F2 car suiting her driving style more.
For 2019, the 26-year-old will partner the reigning GP3 champion – Antoine Hubert. He is someone that Tatiana is keen to learn from, despite having never been coupled with a driver who has “those credentials”.
“I like the extra power,” she says. “What we have is 300 more horsepower than in GP3 and we have carbon brakes. I like to push the engine a little bit more, and with the brakes I’m quite good. I really look forward to my first race to really be able to confirm if it suits me better.”
“There are many drivers who have been there for a while, so that makes it obviously more difficult,” she says. “There’s also a lot of people coming from GP3, so the level will be high.”
She knows that it won’t be an easy task ahead of her, but she’s ready for the challenge.
“The teams here are very professional so everything is going to be tighter,” she says. “With the pit stops and the strategy, it’s going to be a tough year. I’m expecting it to be challenging, but I can learn and benefit from it quite a lot.”
Ultimately, she sees F2 as a chance to continue progressing onto her goal “a seat in F1”.
She hopes that she’ll be “regularly scoring points” this year and sets that as an important objective in what she labels as her most important year to date.
“Every year you think so but this is a very important year with step up to F2 and keeping my relationship with Alfa Romeo racing – that really means a lot to me,” she says. “I hope that I can pull it together and show that I deserve to get more chances in the future.
“The team appointed me as the driver because they wanted me in that role.”
Tatiana also broke into Formula E towards the end of last year, testing with DS Techeetah in the post-Ad Diriyah E-Prix in-season test.
“There’s nothing similar to a Formula E car,” she says. “You don’t have that much downforce. The power is very instant because they’re electric cars and it’s a lot more complex than what I imagined. There’s a lot you have to do as a driver to be competitive in one of those cars.”
She recalls being surprised by how difficult the Formula E car was to drive, but she will not rule out the series of her career.
“My dream is to race in F1, but I think Formula E is very interesting,” she says. “They have great drivers, really good engineers, and it’s developing. It’s definitely something to look at for the future.”
Like any driver, she has received her fair share of criticism. Tatiana, however, insists that she is in her position because of her talent.
“If you are in F1, it’s not because of your gender but because of your performance,” she says. “Fred Vasseur trusts me and he’s giving me the opportunity because I’ve responded. I’m there because I’m capable of doing the job.”
She also admits that the W Series approached her and invited her to apply for a seat in the all-new women-only championship. Tatiana declined because her career is “going in a different way”.
“Throughout my whole career I’ve always competed against the boys and against the best,” she says. “I’ve never thought that I couldn’t beat them or that I couldn’t be at the highest level. It would’ve been a step back in my career.
“It’s a privilege and an honour to be showing girls and boys what you can achieve if you want something and if you find your passion.”