In the recent Spa-Francorchamps round of the 2014 FIA European Formula 3 Championship, the only female in the field Tatiana Calderon finally bagged her first points of the season when she took fifth position in race two.
It was a breakthrough weekend for the pretty Colombian driver, who had taken time to adjust to her new surroundings having switched from the Signature team to Mücke Motorsport the day before the new season started at Silverstone in April, having seen Signature withdraw from the series when the Renault engines the team were set to use were found to be underpowered. On official entry lists Calderon is driving for Jo Zeller Racing, but she is part of the Mücke Motorsport line-up alongside Felix Rosenqvist, Lucas Auer and Roy Nissany.
“I had a pretty difficult start off the season changing teams after the pre season testing and signing with Mücke Motorsport a day before the first race, but from there on we have been improving every weekend and I am sure the best is yet to come,” admitted Calderon to The Checkered Flag.
“I felt like 60kg lighter to be honest. I felt close to score points in many races before but for different reason out of my control I didn’t happen. I knew I was on the right track but didn’t know when and how they were going to come so scoring a top 5 finish in Spa was amazing.”
Calderon admits that it took longer than she really wanted to score her first points of the season, but was happy that the circumstances finally came together at Spa-Francorchamps to score 10 points for fifth place. She felt points were coming, but bad luck had hampered her up to Spa.
“I think [taking so long to score points] was a combination of things; first of all getting to know the team in the first races without a test day was tough,” said Calderon. “Also I had 10-place grid penalties for changing from Renault engines to Mercedes for 3 races. And [then I had] a bit of bad luck when I was close to scoring some points.
“Finally in Spa everything came together and I was able to qualify well which makes a huge difference in your chances to get in to the top 10. Now I understand even more the importance of Qualifying and that is something I will continue to work on.”
The breakthrough qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps was held in mixed conditions. While the usual suspects like Esteban Ocon and Max Verstappen were qualifying at the front, Calderon had an excellent session that saw her qualify eleventh for race two and seventh for race three!
“It was very tricky because the track changes every lap, you have to push during all session because particularly in Spa you never know what the weather may do and in this case track was drying out every lap so you had to be ready to change your lines to find the grip,” said Calderon about her qualifying. “And at the same safe your rain tires for the end of the session.”
Calderon was able to convert her eleventh place on the grid to fifth at the flag, and had some good wheel-to-wheel battles that she came out on top in, most noticeably with John Bryant-Meisner who she kept behind her superbly. The races at Spa-Francorchamps has given the young Colombian some extra confidence, and is ready to score points again as she continues to develop as a driver.
“I was really happy with my race pace and aggressiveness,” acknowledged Calderon. “I took my chances and I felt I did everything right. That is a feeling you don’t have everyday and for that reason I enjoyed every lap of that race. I had a lot of battles during that race and a few wheel-to-wheel touches so I was just really happy to have taken the right decisions at the right time. A top 5 is an amazing result because this series is extremely competitive.
“I know I have the pace to be in the top 10 I think now it’s a matter of getting better starting positions. My race pace is good so I am confident we will be scoring some more points in the next few races.
“I am feeling very confident and I want to show that I can be there consistently. There is less pressure because I score points already but there is also pressure now that I know what I can do.”
Calderon followed up her debut point’s finish in Spa-Francorchamps with a tenth place finish and another point at the Norisring in Germany despite having a difficult weekend at the German track. She was running competitively in the opening two rounds before ultimately retiring from both in accidents that weren’t down to her mistakes.
“I finished P10 [at the Norisring] and scored another point after a difficult weekend were I was taken out when I had really good chances to score points in the first 2 races.”
The series resumes this weekend at the Moscow Raceway, with Calderon aiming for her third consecutive points scoring weekend.