TATIANA IN CONFIDENT MOOD FOR GP3 DEBUT IN BARCELONA

After a successful pre-season of testing, Tatiana Calderón is raring to make her debut in the Formula 1-supporting GP3 Series this weekend in Barcelona.

Tatiana will be making her first outing for the title-winning Arden International team in two support races for the F1 Spanish Grand Prix, as she looks to keep up the momentum from a positive winter at a circuit she’s intimately familiar with.

It will be the first time the 23-year-old has raced the championship’s all-new Dallara GP3/16 car, a machine that she had her first taste of during the first of three official GP3 tests in Estoril in March.

Quickly integrating herself within the Arden set-up and acclimatising to the behaviour of the car, Tatiana made clear progress up the timesheets in the subsequent tests in Valencia and Barcelona in a highly competitive field.

And, as she tells us in this Q&A, the Bogota native is confident of maintaining that strong form going into the first race weekend of the season:

How were your first impressions of the new car when you tried it for the first time in Estoril? “Straight away I felt very comfortable. It doesn’t feel too much different to the old car [that Tatiana tested at Abu Dhabi in 2014 and 2015]; maybe there is a little more front downforce, which makes the steering heavier, but it’s not such a big difference. At Estoril we had some teething issues, but my pace was competitive despite the loss of track time and I felt I adapted to the car and the nuances of the Pirelli tyres well.”

What are the biggest differences between the GP3 car and the F3 machinery you’ve been used to? “Both cars require completely different styles. In GP3, you have more power and you therefore need to be much smoother on the throttle to preserve the tyres, you can’t attack the corners so much. In F3 you carry more minimum speed through the corners, which makes it totally different. The Pirelli tyres used in GP3 have very different characteristics to what I have been used to in F3, and you need to learn how to reach their peak performance.”

What progress do you feel you have made from Estoril to the third and final test in Barcelona? “I got to try out all three Pirelli tyre compounds over the course of the three tests – medium at Estoril, soft at Valencia and then hard at Barcelona – which was a good experience to learn about how each of them behaves. By the time I reached Barcelona, my qualifying pace was a lot stronger than it was at Estoril, as I was able to understand how to get the best from the tyre for that single-lap push, and the race simulation we did there was also really good. At the moment everything looks positive, I feel confident, but you never know exactly where you stand until qualifying for the first race.” What has it been like working with Arden so far? “There’s a great atmosphere in the team. It’s a smaller team than I’m used to, and I’ve been reunited with the engineer I used to work with at Mücke Motorsport when I had a good season of European F3 in 2014. I feel confident with them, and I think my performances in testing so far have reflected that – they’ve given me everything I need to learn and understand the car.”

And finally, what do you think will be the key to a successful season? “Qualifying – it’s traditionally been one of my weaker points, so if I can qualify well and start further up the grid, I know my race pace and my racecraft are good enough to get the results.” BARCELONA WEEKEND TIMETABLE (All times CET and subject to change)

Friday 13 May Free practice – 17:50

Saturday 14 May Qualifying – 09:45 Race 1 – 17:20

Sunday 15 May Race 2 – 09:15