TATIANA GAINS VALUABLE EXPERIENCE ON GP3 DEBUT

Tatiana Calderón endured a character-building first weekend of her GP3 Series career, as she finished outside of the points in the two races at Barcelona.

Making her debut in the Formula 1 support series for Arden International, Tatiana had both of her races compromised from the outset because of poor starts – which, combined with the near-impossibility of overtaking, made for a frustrating experience at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The weekend started in uncertain fashion as Friday evening’s free practice began on a damp track, and the re-emergence of rain in the closing stages made the session little more than a lottery.

The lack of track time made Saturday morning’s qualifying a challenge, but Tatiana rose to it by qualifying less than a second away from pole in P12, despite being slowed by traffic in the final sector on her best lap on a rapidly improving track.

However, the 23-year-old’s hard work was undone by a sluggish getaway at the start of Saturday’s first race, caused by clutch problems, costing her three places off the line. She was able to recover one of these on the opening lap at Turn 10, but thereafter – like nearly every other driver in the field – she was powerless to improve on her position, finishing her maiden race in 14th position.

It was a similar story in race two on Sunday morning, as Tatiana suffered the misfortune of having a damp patch on her grid slot after overnight rain. The resulting slow start, combined with being squeezed out by a rival, resulted in the Colombian dropping from 14th to 20th on the first lap.

An early pass on Arden teammate Jack Aitken would prove the highlight of another trying race, although a 10-second penalty for Matt Parry promoted Tatiana to 18th in the final result.

Tatiana Calderón: “Unfortunately, the clutch issue at the start of race one compromised the whole weekend. It was a shame because I felt I had the speed running on my own, but it was so hard following other cars closely during the races. To be honest, after the first two laps, it was quite boring both times; I tried to force the driver ahead into a mistake, but it just didn’t happen. At least we got some useful experience of how the new car works, and now I look forward to the next round at Austria, where hopefully overtaking will be much easier. We will definitely work on our starts, and then aim to qualify in the top eight to give ourselves a chance of scoring some good results.”

The next round of the GP3 Series takes place at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 1-3, but Tatiana’s next races will be at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium as she tackles the second round of the Euroformula Open championship on May 19-22.

GP3 points standings after Barcelona: 1. Leclerc 27 2. Albon 23 3. Hughes 23 4. Fuoco 22 5. Tunjo 18 — 16. Calderón 0