GP3's Tatiana Calderon: 'That's how everything started'

Tatiana Calderon is a 24 year old Colombian female race who has defied stereotypes to become a well-known and respected name in the single seater categories.  I point out the fact she is female is because in the past few years women in motorsport has just exploded on social media and within the sport itself. Calderon became the first female driver to race for Arden in their 19 year history when she joined the team in 2016 to race in GP3. Prior to this, Calderon contested in the British Formula 3 season in 2013 with Double R Racing and finished third at the Nurburgring, becoming the first and only woman (so far) to stand on the podium in that series.

I had the pleasure of asking Calderon all sorts of questions, to her working with the Sauber F1 team, her inspirations and her racing career.

Sian Williams: Tell us about your experiences racing in GP3 and European F3. What are the main differences and what have you learnt from them?

Tatiana Calderon: ‘I think they’re both great series’; both completely different. A F3 car has a lot of downforce and less power and when I raced in the series they had Hankook tyres which don’t have a noticeable peak performance. You also have less track time and two qualifying sessions. GP3 is more powerful and not so much downforce, so they carry less speed through the corners. Pirelli tyres have a very clear peak performance so there is no second chance, you have to do it in one lap. It is demanding and with one qualifying and one practice session you have to adapt very quickly. You also race in front of an F1 crowd and I would say it brings extra pressure on everyone’

SW: How did it feel to score points for the first time in GP3?

TC: ‘It was amazing, I had been so close before so it was a relief.’

SW: What got you into karting and racing when you were younger?

TC: ‘My sister asked me to join her to the rental go karts we had near our house and we loved the feeling of adrenaline. We went a lot of times straight after school until the guys from the rental track let us try and real racing kart and we worked really hard to convince our parents. That’s how everything started.’

SW: Do you see yourself working for Sauber long-term?

TC: ‘Yes, I would love to continue in the team. They have a lot of history in F1 and have brought up world champions so they know how to work with young drivers. The atmosphere is great and I get along really well with the people and it is incredible how much I learnt from them last year.’

SW: Do you think you have ever been treated different because you are a woman who races?

TC: ‘I would like to say no but they definitely treat you different. The people you work with sometimes don’t believe you are capable and you have to prove yourself. They do not always listen to your feedback because they think you don’t know enough. At the race track it is also different as guys don’t want to be beaten by a girl, so I also believe it is harder for us to overtake. But I kind of like this challenge and slowly times are changing. We need to change the perception and that women can drive. We need to prove them wrong so they can change their perceptions.’

SW: How hard do you have to work to keep fit mentally and prepare yourself for the racing season?

TC: ‘You have to work really hard. As a woman, you have 30% less muscle mass than men and for example GP3 has no power steering, the steering wheel is really heavy. Some say even more than the F2 so training is key in performance. Mentally as well it is a demanding sport so I also dedicate a lot of time to it. You have to do so many things at 300km/h that you have to keep sharp.’

SW: Who is your biggest inspiration and what keeps you motivated?

TC: ‘I started racing watching Montoya winning so for sure he has been an inspiration to me. Also when I moved to Europe and found out Susie Wolff had become Williams test driver it empowered me to keep fighting for what I have always wanted.’

SW: What advice would you give young girls who want to race and have people telling them they cant because they are female?

TC: ‘I would say to then that dreams don’t have limits, no matter what people say. If you truly want something, just go for it.’

SW: What is one saying you live by?’

TC: ‘Impossible is nothing’

Just from these questions alone you can see Calderon is not only inspired by people before herself, but also an inspiration to younger generations. She is making her mark in motorsport and I think she is proving people wrong. If you want to witness what Calderon can do then you are in luck, she has recently confirmed she will be continuing in GP3 racing for Jenzer Motorsport.

Big thank you to Tatiana Calderon for taking the time to answer these questions and good luck for the season this year.