Making her return to the FIA Formula 2 grid last weekend after three nearly years and thanks to the support from award-winning artist Karol G and AVL Racetech, Colombian driver Tatiana Calderón reacquainted herself with the Formula 1 feeder series to mark a promising weekend in Belgium.
Tatiana returned to F2 after last racing in the championship in 2019 to race for Charouz Racing System and successfully completed a trouble-free weekend with plenty of mileage, which was key to set the base for the rest of her F2 campaign, getting a proper read on the car and its characteristics, especially the 18-inch tyres which were introduced after her first spell in the series.
The Colombian driver started the weekend with an interrupted free practice session due to a number of red flags, but despite the shortened running, she quickly got to grips with the F2 car and refamiliarised herself with the unique demands of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. After two red flags cut the session short, Tatiana finished 12th fastest, ahead of her team-mate Enzo Fittipaldi.
Later on Friday qualifying proved to be a much more challenging proposition, with Tatiana struggling on the soft compound of tyres which she only tried then for the first time. Subsequently, she had to abort her first push lap and wasn’t able to capitalise on her second attempt either, finishing 21st on the grid for both races.
Saturday marked new opportunities and an 18-lap Sprint Race. Tatiana gained a position before lights out with Jehan Daruvala unable to start, and off the line she battled with Juri Vips and Amaury Cordeel, moving up to P20 before Cordeel was able to regain the position. A well-timed safety car on Lap 15, gave Tatiana the chance to pit for the much quicker soft compound tyres. Tatiana crossed the line in P20, but a five-second time penalty for Lirim Zendeli promoted her to P19.
In Sunday’s 25-lap Feature Race Tatiana again showed promising pace, making up three places to finish 18th. In the dry conditions, Tatiana moved up to P20 in the first four laps. After pitting for the medium compound of tyre for her mandatory pit stop on Lap 8, Tatiana came out in P19, running within DRS range of Calan Williams for a number of laps before competitors with much fresher tyres who pitted later were able to pass her in the closing stages of the race.
Tatiana’s F2 campaign resumes this weekend where she heads to the rollercoaster-like banked circuit of Zandvoort in the Netherlands - a track that demands precision across its 14 fast and sweeping corners. Having raced there previously in 2013 and 2015 in the FIA European Formula 3 championship, she had a best result of 11th among a grid of more than 30 cars, but the track has seen changes to its layout since then for its return to the F1 calendar.
Tatiana Caldéron: “Overall I’m super happy to be back in F2, thanks again to Karol G, to AVL and to everyone that has supported me to make this return possible. After a couple of months in a difficult situation in IndyCar it was great to be back racing, even if it was very clear that this was set to be a challenging weekend. It was my first time with the 18-inch tyres, this car and also with the team in a long while. I think we did a decent job and I learnt a lot during both races. We had a bit of degradation on the rear tyres, more than what we were expecting. But we had good pace at times compared to my team-mate Enzo, so that’s encouraging looking ahead to the next two rounds. I want to thank the team for their warm welcome - Spa is always a special place in many ways for me so I’m happy to be back and looking forward to the next two weekends.”
Tatiana’s weekend begins with a free practice session on Friday at 10:05 (UTC+2) local time, before qualifying at 15:00. Saturday’s 29-lap Sprint Race begins at 17:00 and the weekend concludes with the 40-lap Feature Race at 10:20 on Sunday.