Tatiana Calderón heads into the closing stages of this year’s GP3 Series campaign in a position of strength after again showcasing her impressive pace at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Sauber Formula 1 development driver turned heads in practice when she set the second-quickest time overall, although a combination of bad weather in qualifying and a fraught opening race of the weekend prevented her from converting this promise into points.
Coming off the back of her best-ever GP3 qualifying showing in Hungary, Tatiana arrived in Belgium optimistic of a strong showing at one of her favourite circuits, and during the 45-minute free practice on Friday morning she gave one of the clearest indications of her potential yet.
Second place, only four tenths off the pace around one of the longest circuits on the calendar, meant the 24-year-old went into qualifying carrying serious momentum. But a rain shower just before the pivotal Friday evening session turned the fight for pole into something of a lottery.
Even so, Tatiana was able to match her Hungary performance by taking 10th on the grid for Saturday evening’s first race, putting her in a solid position to score points, but any chance of registering a crucial top-10 finish was spoilt by a poor start that dropped her to 19th place on the opening lap.
While she was able to recover to 13th place on the road by the finish, a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision with DAMS teammate Bruno Baptista meant she was only classified 16th, determining her grid slot for the second race on Sunday morning.
Tatiana was able to recover the positions she lost at the start within the first couple of laps, and thereafter a solid race pace allowed her to recover three more places to 13th at the chequered flag.
Tatiana Calderón: “It was a pretty good weekend in terms of pace, and being P2 in practice – and with a purple sector two in particular – was really encouraging. Qualifying was really tricky with the changing conditions, but I was quite happy to start in the top 10. You always want more obviously, but it was still my equal-best starting position in GP3. Unfortunately, at the start of Race 1 I kept a bit of brake when I released the clutch and the car didn’t get off the line. I then had an incident with my teammate Baptista, which compromised the weekend even more. But I was quite happy with the way I moved forward with my pace throughout the race. I did some good overtaking manoeuvres in race two, but it was a short race and we couldn’t move up the order more than I did. I look forward to Monza this weekend; I’m glad to be able to be in the car again soon.”
Tatiana returns to action at the legendary Monza circuit near Milan, Italy, on 4-6 September for the sixth round of the GP3 championship calendar.
MONZA TIMETABLE (All times CET and subject to change)
Friday 1st of September Free Practice – 18:15
Saturday 2nd of September Qualifying – 9:45 Race 1 – 17:50
Sunday 3rd of September Race 2 – 9:00