Tatiana Calderón returned to Super Formula action last weekend at Twin Ring Motegi, but things did not go as planned in what was a bruising return to the Japanese series.
Reunited with her ThreeBond Drago Corse team after six months away from Japan, Tatiana unfortunately suffered the first non-finish of her Super Formula career after crashing out at around half-distance with a throttle problem, the culmination of a difficult weekend.
Problems began for Tatiana as early as free practice on Saturday morning, as an issue with the throttle caused her to go off and restrict her running in that session to only 10 laps – also denying her precious time to practice a qualifying run.
That setback, combined with light drizzle in Q1 that made getting the tyres up to temperature even harder than normal, meant Tatiana could do no better than 10th in her qualifying group. That left her 18th on the grid, but she dropped one place to the back following an overnight engine change, a legacy of her problems in FP1.
Tatiana had her first real experience of driving her Dallara SF19-Honda in the wet on Sunday as the heavens well and truly opened at Motegi, but come the race she gained positions early on by avoiding trouble before pitting for slick tyres during the first safety car period.
She was running in a solid 15th place by the time the race settled down, with her laptimes steadily improving, before a suspected recurrence of the throttle problem caused her to crash exiting Turn 2 on lap 17 of 35. She was thankfully uninjured in the incident.
Tatiana Calderón: “It has been a difficult weekend from start to finish, beginning with the throttle problem in free practice. Doing so little running meant qualifying was always likely to be a challenge, and I was only able to do one push lap instead the planned two. In the first part of the race, I was able to stay with the group and the team made the right call to bring me in for slicks under the safety car but then the race didn’t last much longer unfortunately. We need to look back in detail at what went wrong in order to avoid any recurrences and make sure we head to Suzuka as best prepared as we can for our last race of the season. I’d like to thank the ThreeBond Drago Corse team for all their hard work, especially having to change the engine after qualifying.”
Tatiana now turns her focus to the final race of the Super Formula season at the legendary Suzuka Circuit on October 30-31. This will mean she will skip the Bahrain 6 Hours round of the FIA World Endurance Championship on the same weekend, before she travels to Bahrain for the WEC season finale on November 6.