Tatiana Calderón was left unable to add to her recent run of strong GP3 Series finishes in Sepang, as her weekend was compromised by a mechanical problem at the start of the first race.
The 23-year-old suffered a clutch failure as her Arden International-run machine ground to a halt a matter of metres from her grid slot in the first race, while a strong recovery drive from the back of the grid to 15th went unrewarded in the second race.
Tatiana’s misfortune began in the very first session of the weekend, as her efforts to familiarise herself with the challenging Sepang track in Thursday practice were hampered by brake problems.
Things failed to improve during qualifying on Friday evening, when issues with traffic meant the Colombian lapped 1.5 seconds off the pace of the leaders in a typically closely-fought session, in which the entire grid was covered by just two seconds.
That left Tatiana down in P19 for the opening race on the grid, before a problem with one of the friction plates in her car’s clutch left her stranded on the start/finish straight as the rest of the pack got away.
As well denying her crucial track time and data on an unfamiliar and challenging circuit, her early exit meant she would be forced to start the second race from P22 and last. Some feisty early overtaking moves allowed the 23-year-old to move as high as 14th by the midpoint of the race, before she slipped back behind Matevos Isaakyan a lap later.
Unlike in recent races, the use of the hard compound Pirelli tyre meant degradation was not a serious issue, and after Tatiana fell back behind Isaakyan she spent the rest of the race following in the Russian’s wheeltracks – finishing just half a second behind at the chequered flag in 15th place.
Tatiana Calderón: “It was a bit of a disappointing weekend, really. In qualifying I had to abort my first push lap, and I had traffic on all my other laps. Starting P19 on the grid for the first race was always going to make it difficult, but at the start, we had a material failure on the clutch, concerning one of the friction disks. The clutch was slipping and I couldn’t engage any gears, so my race was only 50 metres long, and I lost a lot of track time as well. It was less than ideal, but sometimes the car breaks and it’s no-one’s fault. It was quite positive to go from last to P15 in the second race, I made a few good moves around the outside in the first few laps and I was happy with the pace. Now we have only one more round to go at Abu Dhabi – a track I know well – so I just need to prepare for it as well as possible.”
Prior to the GP3 finale in Abu Dhabi next month, Tatiana will be back in Euroformula Open action for the next round at Jerez, Spain, on 28-30 October, as she rejoins the RP Motorsport team.