|Last week, 25-year-old Tatiana Calderon became the first female driver to test a current-spec F1 car since Susie Wolff’s run in free practice with Williams at the 2015 British Grand Prix.
The young Colombian’s 23-lap session – conducted at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City – ciateame courtesy of her personal sponsors and thanks to Sauber with whom Calderon has been affild for the past two years.
While mileage was limited, as the run was done within the context of a promotional filming day, the effort was nevertheless a flawless one which actually impressed Sauber team boss Beat Zehnder.
“They asked me not to say this, but I will anyway: Tatiana ran faster laps than Fernando Alonso today,” said Zehnder, a bit tongue-in-cheek as the McLaren driver had only completed three laps in the Mexican GP a few days earlier.
“Joking aside, we’re obviously very proud of her,” he added.
She then crossed the Atlantic to join the ranks of British F3, becoming in 2013 the first woman to clinch a podium in the junior category, repeating the feat in Euro F3 the following year.
Her results, and talent, warranted a seat as a development driver at Hinwil in 2017 before she was promoted to test driver at Sauber behind Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson.
“I gave them a reason to believe in me,” Calderón said. “All of the work and the effort paid off. And I’m still not there yet.”
Interestingly, she dismissed the prospect of competing in the new all-female W Series circuit set to launch in 2019.
“In my experience,” she said, “I’ve always wanted to compete against the best. I’ve always raced against men, and I don’t see the need for a [women’s-only] tournament. I’m not going to compete there.”
A young woman on a mission, Tatiana Calderon was all smiles when she concluded her test with Sauber last week, gripped by the thrill of the run while also projecting herself into a possible future as a bona fide Formula 1 driver.
“When can I drive it again?” were her first words to her Sauber engineers when it was all said and done.
Don’t worry Tatiana, your time will come. If you are the chosen one…
Phillip van Osten