Sauber Formula 1 development driver Tatiana Calderón scorched to her first points finish of the GP3 Series season in a spectacular comeback drive at Monza.
Starting from the back row of the grid for the one and only race of the weekend, Tatiana picked her way through the field in a frenetic Sunday morning encounter to record a seventh-place finish – her best-ever GP3 result and one that cements her status as the F1 feeder series’ most successful-ever female driver.
Persistent heavy rain on Saturday, which delayed F1 qualifying, cancelled both qualifying and the second race of the weekend for the GP3 teams and drivers, meaning practice times would determine the grid for the postponed first and only race at the Italian GP track.
That meant Tatiana would have to fight her way through from 19th on the grid, and an early puncture caused by debris on track left her needing to make a pitstop for fresh tyres, putting her at the back of the pack during a lengthy early safety car period.
But when the race resumed, the 24-year-old wasted no time at all in fighting her way up the order, picking up three positions in the first two full laps of green flag racing. Two more passes put Tatiana up to 12th place by the time of the second safety car period.
This bunched up the field and allowed the Colombian driver to go back on the attack in the closing stages, something she took full advantage of as she made her way up to eighth place before the race was effectively ended by a third caution period.
Eighth then became seventh as a result of a five-second penalty for Steijn Schothorst, gifting Tatiana a valuable extra two points and giving DAMS its best result of the season so far.
Tatiana Calderón: “Scoring my first points of the season was definitely a great way to end a difficult weekend. In my first run in free practice I was really quick, but then the team decided to test a lower configuration of downforce on my car when we put on the new tyres, and it didn’t work out. Then they took these times as qualifying because the session was cancelled due to bad weather. So to come from P19 on the grid – and with a puncture on Lap 1 – to make some good moves, keep my nose clean and drive a smart race to finish P7 was a big relief. I’m extremely happy with the result and looking forward to building on it next time out at Jerez.”
Tatiana returns to GP3 action for the penultimate round of the season at the Jerez Circuit in southern Spain on October 6-8.