Tatiana Calderon: “Now the other drivers look at me differently!”

In her latest Motorsport.com column, GP3 driver Tatiana Calderon reflects on a recent upturn in form that has seen her become the championship’s highest-ever female points-scorer.

Tatiana Calderon: “Now the other drivers look at me differently!”
Matthew Parry, Koiranen GP leads Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Jack Aitken, Arden International;Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Tatiana Calderon, Arden International
Tatiana Calderon, Arden International

Welcome to my latest column! I can’t believe how quickly this season has gone – it doesn’t feel that long ago that I was in Barcelona, preparing for my first GP3 race with my Arden team, but here we are in early September and with only two rounds of the season left to go.

Since I last wrote, my season has taken a positive turn, with 10th place finishes at Hockenheim and Monza. Those two points I scored from those races make me the best-ever female driver in GP3, but to be completely honest those kinds of achievements are not what I really care about.

Don’t get me wrong - it’s nice to finally find some consistency after the bad start to the season I had, and to get myself on the scoreboard. But the points themselves don’t mean a whole lot to me; what really matters is the pace I’ve showed, how I’ve overtaken people, how I’ve been managing the tyres.

People are definitely starting to take notice of that more – the other drivers in the GP3 paddock lately have been looking at me differently. 

I think it was because a lot of them weren’t expecting me to be at their level at the start of the year, but now I’ve proved I am and they’re starting to respect me like any other driver.

These guys, a few of whom will no doubt make it to Formula 1 in future, are aware now that I’m capable of making their life difficult.

For me, the second Monza race was the clearest demonstration yet of that. I was running eighth and putting pressure on my Arden teammate Jack Aitken ahead, and it seemed like we had more pace than the ART guys, Nirei Fukuzumi and Charles Leclerc, who were battling just ahead of us.

Exiting the second chicane, Fukuzumi pushed Leclerc out to the grass and they clashed – I was on the outside, braking hard, but I had to turn – and when I did I clipped my front wing on Fukuzumi’s car and ended up in the gravel. Without that, for sure I could have finished in the top six.

So, why the turnaround? I think it’s mainly because, at the start of the year, I put a lot more pressure on myself. It took me a few rounds to realise that, when I relax and go out there and just do what I know – and what I love – it comes to you.

Looking back, the first race in Hockenheim was definitely the turning point, especially after how badly qualifying that weekend went: I felt 40 kilos lighter when I scored that point! I think a lot of it is down to the mind, because deep down I knew I could do it, but I needed to prove it to myself.

To actually get that result, get that first point in the bag, that released a lot of pressure. I was able to show to myself that I can compete and that level and that I have the speed.

I gained a lot of confidence back from that race, and ever since I’ve been pretty happy with the feeling in the car and the pace I’ve shown – and I need to thank the team for their help in making me feel more comfortable in the car and allowing me to show my potential.

Of course I want to start scoring big results, but I know it’s something you can’t force and I’m confident they’ll come soon if we carry on the way we've been going.

Next up is Sepang, which is going to be a big challenge for everyone. My goal is be in the top eight in the first race, keep working on my qualifying pace and keep the momentum of the last few rounds going.

But that isn’t until the start of next month – and you can’t keep me out of a racing car for that long! That’s why, this weekend, I’ll be keeping myself sharp with a return to Euroformula Open at the Red Bull Ring with the RP Motorsport team. I can’t wait!

Until next time,

Tatiana

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