GP3 Series racer Tatiana Calderón hopes to sets her eyes on entering Formula 1 in the future, aiming to enda four-decade long drought since a woman last recorded a start in the sport.
The Colombian has raced in F1’s support package for the last three years, with this year racing with Jenzer Motorsport. She is also Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team‘s test driver, having been promoted from a development driver this year.
Twenty-five year old Calderón is the only female racing in the GP3 Series, or even in the whole F1 paddock.
Whilst the topic of females competing in Motorsport has been a subject often vocal in the media, the likes of Calderón has proven that even in a male dominant sport, the only thing that matters when racing is what the stopwatch says, regardless of a driver’s quality, colour, gender etc.
Calderón is hoping to make the extra step from GP3 and in an interview with F1.com, admits she’s no stranger to the gender related question.
“If I want people to treat me exactly the same as the guys, it’s not there yet. It’s difficult when you come to a new team and you have to earn the respect from the engineers and from the guys you race with.” said Calderón .
“You need to fight that, and prove yourself with the stopwatch. I request things because I know a lot about the technical side and I know a lot of what I need to go quick.
“There are certain things that I like in the car. I already know that, so I fight for all those things and when they put what I say into the car, I can show it on the stopwatch, so they start to believe. So okay, we need to work together. Often it’s for their ego, really.” The smile is back. “And I’ve found that at Jenzer Motorsport, they don’t have that ego, so it’s working for me at the moment.”
As well as racing in GP3, Calderón is also an ambassador for FIA‘s Girls On Track and Dare To Be Different to help increase female involvement within Motorsport.
The Colombian says that this year she started to realise the impact of her racing in Motorsport has become, igniting a spark within girls to grow an interest in racing.
“I started to realise this more this year,” added Calderón. “I meet girls all the time and they say, ‘Oh, you’re my inspiration.’ I never really thought I was going to be that, because that was not my first intention. I do this because I love it. But if I can also try and help to open doors for them, I’d be really happy to do so.
“That’s why I’m working with the FIA, not just to be different. Susie did the same for me, and I’m very grateful and I wish I had met her earlier. If I can do that for other people – that would be really good.”
Calderón is aiming to become the first female driver to race in Formula 1 since Lella Lombardi in 1976. Susie Wolff was the last female to drive an F1 car in an official practice session back in 2015, while Giovanni Amati was the last to attempt to qualify for a Grand Prix in 1992.
When asked if Formula 1 would the ultimate goal of her career as a racing driver, Calderón replied with: “Yeah, I would say to myself all the time, especially in Colombia, are you sure you’re going to get into Formula 1?
“But you think to yourself, why not? That’s why I wake up every morning, because I want to be an F1 driver. It’s not good to say, but I don’t care about them paying me millions, I just want to drive those cars as fast as I can and really get the chance to prove myself.”
“That’s why I’m racing GP3. I don’t want to let people give me an opportunity because I’m a woman. I don’t want to be taken like that. I want to be taken like who I am, as a driver. I think I have something to bring to the table, because I’m very sensitive. I think my feedback is quite good. I really want to earn my place.”
Calderón’s season in GP3 this year has been a sign of potential with the times showing the Colombian’s pace but bad luck has hindered her season. She scored her sole point so far this year at the Hungary sprint race but more points were on the table back at Paul Ricard, when she was taken out by team-mate Juan Manuel Correa.
Her relationship with Sauber started when former team principal Monisha Kaltenborn arranged to visit her during her debut year in GP3. Even with the changer of ownership at the Swiss team, Calderón is still part of the organisation and feels ready to jump into a Formula 1 car.
“When Monisha was in charge and I had done a few races in GP3, someone came to the GP3 paddock and asked me to come and talk to her, to introduce myself, and at the end of 2016 we decided to start the relationship.
“I think I will get the chance to test a car, but it depends on the team, really. I have already had some time in the simulator last year. It’s bloody quick, but I was quite quick as well. So I feel ready to jump into the car.”