Tatiana Calderón got her 2016 season off to a flying start during the Euroformula Open Winter Series at Paul Ricard, sealing another podium finish with a typically strong performance.
Spearheading the challenge of the Teo Martín Motorsport squad in her first outing with the team, Tatiana quickly established herself among the frontrunners during the two non-championship races.
Showing progress throughout the weekend, she ended Friday’s partially wet free practice in fifth place before making gains during the following day’s qualifying session – securing a solid fourth place on the grid for the opening race of the weekend with a lap less than half a second off the pace.
Once more demonstrating the superb racecraft that was a hallmark of her European Formula 3 season in 2015, Tatiana made short work of Diego Menchaca on the opening lap to move up to third, and proceeded to pick off poleman Ferdinand Habsburg for second on the following tour.
A battle for the lead with Leonardo Pulcini then ensued, although Tatiana was never quite close enough to launch an attack on the Italian. She nonetheless finished less than a second behind her rival to seal her place on the podium, continuing a streak of scoring at least one top-three finish per meeting stretching back to last October’s MRF Challenge season opener at Abu Dhabi.
Reverse grids meant the Colombian would begin the second race from fifth on the grid, and she was in contention for another podium finish until being pushed off track during a fight for position with Pulcini. This prevented Tatiana from finishing higher than fifth, although she was again Teo Martín’s top finisher by some distance.
Tatiana Calderón: “It was a really positive weekend. We were a bit off the pace on Friday, but we really made a step forward on Saturday. I was happy with P4 in qualifying because I knew I could race from there. I was really aggressive from the word go in the first race, but I was lacking a bit of pace once we made it to P2. In the second race, I found myself in a great position to challenge for a podium, but other drivers weren’t really respecting track limits, and being forced off track also cost me a position. We made a few changes to the car between the two races, and not all of them were positive, but this is the time to try new things – we know what we need to work on, and we still have a few test days to try and raise our game ready for the start of the season.”
Tatiana now moves on to Barcelona for further Euroformula Open testing on 15-16 March, before the season begins in earnest at Estoril on 23-24 April.