Tatiana Calderón enjoyed one of the most impressive outings of her GP3 Series career last weekend at Monza, scoring her best-ever finish in the Formula 1 feeder category.
The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 test driver overcame the disappointment of a missed chance at big points in Saturday’s rain-affected opening race by charging through the field to finish eighth on Sunday, before being promoted to sixth after two of her rivals were excluded.
Last weekend marked the second year in succession that the Monza GP3 round was disrupted by the weather – although rather than a race being cancelled, as it was in 2017, this time Friday morning’s free practice session was called off in the face of heavy rain.
That meant a short 10-minute practice session was added to the schedule immediately prior to qualifying, and this was topped by Tatiana, who was relishing the tricky conditions at the historic Italian Grand Prix venue at the wheel of her Jenzer Motorsport-prepared machine.
Lacking a slipstream on her final flying lap, the Colombian ace ended up eighth on a drying track in qualifying, still taking her best grid slot of the season, and a strong start allowed her to gain places at the start of the first race, which likewise began in wet conditions.
But Tatiana couldn’t sustain her pace as the track tried out, as she and her engineers had anticipated more rain during the race that didn’t materialise. The result was that she dropped from fourth place in the early stages down to 15th place, leaving her with a mountain to climb to get back into the points on in the second race.
Undeterred, the 25-year-old gained places once again at the start and steadily ascended the order, moving up to the final points-paying place in eighth a few laps before the finish.
When Anthoine Hubert and Callum Ilott, who finished third and fourth, were disqualified for a tyre pressure infringement some hours after the race, Tatiana inherited sixth place, marking her best finish yet in GP3 and continuing her upward trajectory in recent races.
Tatiana Calderón: “Overall I’m really pleased with the weekend, even though we missed a big opportunity on Saturday. Due to the weather conditions we only had 10 minutes of practice, and it felt great to be on top. In qualifying we had the speed for the top five but on the last lap I didn’t get a slipstream, so I was happy to only be three tenths off pole and starting inside the top eight. Unfortunately in Race 1 the team thought it would rain more than it did – we had set up the car for a lot of rain but it started to dry out and we fell away; there was nothing I could do to keep up the pace. Then in Race 2, starting from P15, I had really good pace and I was feeling quite confident. I was able to overtake a lot of guys to cross the line in P8, and then the two disqualifications meant I finished P6, which is my best result in GP3. Now we have two more rounds left of the season to keep that momentum going and hopefully we can do even better from now on.”
Tatiana’s next GP3 appearance will come in a little under a month’s time at the Sochi Autodrom, home of the Russian Grand Prix, on September 28-30.