Women in F1: making the way up
Tatiana Calderón, Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team’s test driver, got her first tests behind the wheel of an F1 car and was set to return back testing at Fiorano this weekend.
The way that women made to get to “the queen of motorsports” wasn’t that easy and, in fact, they still continue to pave it. History has witnessed only five female racing drivers that have ever participated in a Grand Prix: Maria Teresa de Filippis, Lella Lombardi and Giovanna Amati from Italy, Divina Galica from the United Kingdom and Desiré Wilson from South Africa – two of them have actually started the race and only one has scored some points.
All of those stories – was them successful or not – took place in a 20th century, led us to a natural thought, that women can compete along with men, they have a strong will to be able to do it. However, today we look at all of them as the heroes, as something unusual in a men’s sport, because nowadays we even hear the ideas of establishing a separate racing series for females.
Even so, Formula 1 still gives opportunities to some of them to become development and test drivers officially signed by F1 teams. In 2012 Williams has announced Susie Wolff to get the above mentioned position; two years later, participating in the first practice session at the British Grand Prix, she became the first woman in 22 years to take part in a F1 race weekend. Yet, Wolff wasn’t permitted to replace Valtteri Bottas when the doctors didn’t allow him to race, and retired from the series in 2016.
Another girl attracting our attention for the last few years was a racing driver from Colombia, Tatiana Calderón. Being successful in her karting career, she then moved to the upper level to compete in 2012 European F3 Open season, driving for EmiliodeVillota Motorsport team. Next three years Calderón decided to stay in FIA European Formula 3 Championship, also taking part in 2013 British Formula 3 season, finishing 7th and gaining one podium. 2016 and 2017 seasons were the FIA GP3 Series time for her, in addition to which she was also signed by the Sauber F1 team as a development driver.
This year Sauber has promoted Tatiana Calderón to become their test driver, so she got her first test in October 2018, at the Mexico City circuit:
"Obviously the heart rate was a bit high, especially when you see so many cameras and when you start the engine, but the team prepared me very well to know what I had to do at all times," she said.
"It has been incredible, a dream come true. You cannot describe what it feels like to be in a Formula 1 car. The first time I accelerated, it seemed like I was on a PlayStation with how fast everything happened.
The instruction was to take things step-by-step. I honestly did not have any physical problems, that means that the physical preparation has gone in the right direction.
"In some ways I found it easier to handle than the GP3 car. I hope I can continue to show that there is no physical disadvantage [for women].
Now that this day has passed, I do not want to go back to my GP3 car, I want to stay here! Hopefully I can continue breaking barriers and achieve my dream of reaching F1."
On November 15, it became known that the Colombian driver was set to have another test for Sauber this Saturday and Sunday, at Ferrari’s Fiorano race track. That’s how Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur commented on it:
"We are pleased to have Tatiana Calderon completing two days of testing at Fiorano. She impressed the team with her dedication, focus, and skills at a recent promotional event.
We are convinced that Tatiana has what it takes to drive at the highest level and look forward to seeing her progress and gain more experience at the upcoming test. "
Well, it’s good to hear these words today, when women in F1 are not in a role of racing drivers yet, but definitely making their way up – step by step.