Tatiana Calderon: ‘We should be judged by the stopwatch and not by our gender’

Tatiana Calderon is a Colombian-born GP3 driver with a raw talent for racing. After competing in the FIA European Formula 3 championship, Tatiana made the jump to the highly respected GP3 Series for the 2016 season, driving for Arden International. The 23-year-old became the first female to race for Arden in the team’s 19-year history.

Following Tatiana’s exploits driving for Carlin in the 2015 FIA European Formula 3 Championship, Calderon has made the step up to competing in two highly competitive series this season. Driving for Arden International in the GP3 Series will enable Tatiana to familiarise herself with the Formula 1 paddock, in addition to learning from a team who are twice-champions in the series. Tatiana will combine this with her races in the EuroFormula Open where she is driving for Teo Martin Motorsport and has already recorded two points-scoring results in the opening four races, including a sixth-place at Estoril.

Away from the track, Tatiana is an excellent advocate for Susie Wolff’s initiative ‘Dare To Be Different’, which aims to inspire the next generation of females in every aspect of motorsport- whether that’s racing, engineering, or journalism.

Women In Motorsport were lucky enough to catch up with Tatiana after her EuroFormula Open race weekend at Spa, where an eighth place finish was managed in tricky wet conditions.

You have a busy 2016, competing in both GP3 and EuroFormula Open Car, how do you adapt to the different cars?

Tatiana: It’s going to be a challenging and exciting year at the same time! Both cars require a totally different style and approach, but that only means I get to experience and learn much more. As a driver, I’m able to switch from one style to the other with no major issues which is very positive.

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Alongside her GP3 Series commitments, Tatiana is racing in the EuroFormula Open for Teo Martin Motorsport. Photo via Tatiana Calderon.

With overtaking difficult in GP3, would you be in support of DRS being introduced into the series?

Tatiana: Absolutely! I’m not sure if the best solution would be to introduce DRS but maybe give the teams a bit more freedom on downforce levels for the races or change the compound of the tire to make it even more interesting. There are a few solutions that could be easier than DRS in the short term.

It was a tough 2015 season for you in F3, admittedly. But, do you feel any extra pressure to lead the team  (in GP3) following your experiences competing in F3?

Tatiana: It’s going to be a challenge and a new experience but I’m confident I have the knowledge to guide the team in the right direction. I don’t see it as extra pressure but as a motivation, I think every driver would love to be the reference.

What’s it like being involved in D2BD, which is inspiring the next generation of female drivers?

D2BD

Tatiana is a member of the D2BD community

Tatiana: I think it’s a great initiative! Drive Female talent, allow those girls who have a passion for Motorsport to follow their dreams and open doors for them. I’m glad they came up with it and that they are really making it work which is the main thing! Glad to be part of the community.

How would you respond to criticisms that female drivers should only compete in separate events to men?

Tatiana: I don’t agree, I have been competing against men all my life and have never felt I  couldn’t win or compete at the highest level. So for me, it is clear that we can be as good as the guys. We should be judged by the stopwatch and not by our gender.

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Tatiana believes women should not race in a separate series and their participation should be judged by the stopwatch and not by their gender. Photo via Tatiana Calderon.

You’re the only woman to have ever stood up on a British F3 podium, can you describe that moment?

Tatiana: It was an amazing feeling, one of the best races of my career so far. It came after a very difficult first year in European F3 so the excitement and taste of it was great! I’m proud of that moment and it gave me a lot of motivation to keep going.

You say you aspire to race in Formula 1. What is it about the series that makes you want to take part in it, despite it being the pinnacle of motorsport?

Tatiana: The cars, the technology, the tracks the people that work in F1 are on top of everything. I think is the reference in Motorsport and I want to compete at the highest level.

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Tatiana dreams of racing in F1. Photo via Tatiana Calderon.

Did your childhood friends understand your passion for motorsport growing up, or did they see it as a ‘boys sport’?

Tatiana: They understood it very well actually. Of course, it was not very common to see a girl racing against boys but in school, my friends always supported me and encouraged me to ‘go hard’ on them. I have always been a sports lover and I used to play soccer with the boys and all kinds of sports really, so for me my gender has never stopped me from doing anything. If you like something you should just go a try it out.

What has been the highlight of your racing career thus far?

Tatiana: I have had some really enjoyable moments throughout my career, I have been racing for 14 years now which is more than half of my life! I will certainly highlight the British F3 podium, a top 5 in the FIA F3 European Championship as well as being the first female to lead a race in that championship and of course two special wins, one in the Florida Winter Series in Sebring and being runner-up in the MRF challenge.

Tatiana is an inspiration for fans and drivers alike, her passion for racing shining through in every aspect of her career. We wish her all the best for the rest of the 2016 season and beyond.

 

By Helena Hicks

 

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