Catching up with Tatiana Calderón

Catching up with Tatiana Calderón

We didn’t see it coming, and neither did she, but Tatiana Calderón is back in Formula 2. We are so happy to see Tatiana here in the paddock and caught her for a quick chat ahead of qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix.


PF - You’re back in Formula 2 for the rest of the season! When did you find out you had the seat?

TC - It’s crazy, honestly. I was trying really hard to find sponsorship for IndyCar for the last two rounds in September, and on Friday I got confirmation that there was no way I was going to be driving in those final two rounds. So on Monday, I was crying at home in Colombia. I thought I was going to be out for six months at best. But then I got a call, and they said you’d better get on a plane and get to Europe because there’s a chance you might be able to drive in F2 for Charouz Racing. So I took the first plane I could, and then received confirmation on Tuesday. Wednesday morning I headed for my seat fit! Honestly, on Monday I was playing the F1 game at home just like “okay, let's see how this thing works”. It was an awesome surprise and I’m super grateful to be here!


PF - How was it being back in the F2 car yesterday?

TC - I left and it felt like I had unfinished business to be honest. I wasn’t sure what was not working with HWA and that pink car a few years back. I don't have the best memories so it's great to be able to give it another go. I tested with Charouz in 2018 and it felt great straight away with the whole team and the car. Right now, I’m just really happy that I get another chance to prove myself in F2.


PF - Karol G is helping to support your season, can you tell us a little about the partnership and your connection with her?

TC - She basically saved my season! When I lost my sponsorship in Indy Car we started reaching out to all kinds of different people. My sister had a friend in the music business so we touched base with them. I don’t know if you saw, but Bad Bunny partnered with Red Bull at the Miami Grand Prix. Basically, we said if you can find somebody or if someone is interested in helping me out please let us know. And then all of a sudden Karol G started following me on Instagram. I was like WOW! She had just been doing laps in the Ferrari 3-seater. I sent her a DM and she replied saying she would be in contact and that she would love to see me race sometime. Her manager and my sister started talking and it went from there. Karol G was super clear in that she wants to support women. We’re both Colombian, and we're both women in pretty male-dominated industries. Her style of music, reggaeton, is quite a male-dominated genre of music and I am competing in motorsport, which again is a male-dominated sport, and she wants to support that. She wants to send a message to all of these other companies that it takes women coming together to make this work. What she represents is just amazing, she went in there and broke the rules and it’s really cool to have her on board and have her support.


PF - What are some of the physical differences between driving an F2 car and an IndyCar?

TC - So they’re both very physical, I have to say. Especially with the different tyres, the F2 tyres are heavier now, I only drove on the 13” tyres before. I would say because F2 has more downforce, you need more strength, especially on the corners. But IndyCar is such a long race and the car moves around a lot so there are a lot of small movements, you’re constantly having to catch the car and that makes your forearms work and the intensity of everything much higher. They’re very different types of cars to drive but both are very physical.


PF - We’ve seen the blistered pictures of IndyCar driver's hands, it's crazy!

TC - You can't even imagine! Honestly, it feels like your heart is going to explode. I had to make special hand grips and really tight gloves to stop that. When you’re racing it's really hot and you’re pushing so hard all of the time. We would do three pit stops a race and the car is always quite light, as you don’t have to put that much fuel in actually, so it's tough. It's the most physical thing I have done for sure!


PF - You’ve raced here a number of times before, is it a track you enjoy?

TC - Yes, I have great memories from Spa! Also, with this weather, it’s very Spa! I think I led an F3 race here starting from the back on rain tyres, back when Charles (Leclerc )and Jake Dennis were racing. So I have always done well here. Obviously, with what happened here in 2019 I took a step back from enjoying this place, but I have tried to move past that, it's still a very special place for me.


PF - You remain the only woman to have raced in F2, do you have any thoughts on that? Do you think we’ll see more women here in the coming seasons?

TC - It's a shame because it has been three years since I last raced in the series. I wish we could see more girls in F2 and F3 - and pushing up through the series. I’m sure it's going to come. I hope that through what we're doing it helps, I have always been quite active with the organisation, and Bruno, (Formula 2 CEO Bruno Michel) has always been so supportive– always asking what I need and how he can help. Asking what can be changed, whether the car is too physical etc. I think that will help get the next generation into the sport, and I really hope that there are more trying to get involved. It's one of the most competitive series, when you look at F2 and F3 they’re constantly growing in popularity, especially off the back of Drive to Survive. We need more women here, but first, we need more data. Women are different and we need different things.


PF - We wanted to ask about that, are there any physical differences as a woman that mean you need to train differently at all?

TC - Yes, I have done a lot of research on this. Because honestly, I had to try and get an understanding for myself, there is a real lack of research and data on this. There are a lot of trainers who know how to train guys, but not a lot that can train women. Women have a completely different hormonal profile so we don’t build muscle as quickly as the guys. There are certain times during our period when we're more likely to gain strength and then other times when we can't, because physiologically the strength just isn't there. Guys don’t have periods so they don't have to structure or organise their training as we do. It's a fact we will never be as strong as men, we have 30% less muscle than men so we have to compensate by knowing exactly which muscles to train properly.

In a car you don’t need to be huge, you just need to be strong in the right areas. I’ve done a lot of research on what sort of training I need to be doing. There’s no point in me just adding weight and getting huge, it won't make me feel better in the car, I’ve done that. So my training has to be very specific and it has to be aligned. Our measurements, our legs are a bit longer than the guys and the guys have a longer trunk so sitting in the car we have to be in the right position, which sometimes isn’t easy to find. We have fewer quick fibres in our muscles so we react a little bit slower and we need to train that more to get more explosive. That's something I have been working on. And I have started to train differently since discovering these things from doing my own research.

We're not guys, we’re very different and people need to understand that. We don’t want to make a big deal about the fact that we're different, we just need people to understand it. We even think differently. For example, qualifying might not be our strength because we like to feel and know what we're getting into, it's a natural thing. But maybe we need an extra lap than the guys, it's all these things. Motorsport is about these tiny little details. But it's the details that make the difference and help you to win races.


PF - Do you have pre-race rituals, do you listen to music or anything to get in the zone?

TC - Yes I have always loved listening to music before the race. I also have a warm-up routine that I always do to get fired up. It’s been the same process for a few years and it works well for me.


PF - The IndyCar paddock gave fans a lot of access to see and speak to you, is that something you’ll miss at all? Or was that overwhelming?

TC - No, it was so nice when you walk out of your garage and you see girls and fans wanting pictures with you and wanting your autograph, stopping you and saying hi and encouraging you. It’s something I have missed. I was telling my sister it feels like we are phantoms here this weekend, there’s nobody around. Also coming to Europe is quite a big change. The more we get access to the fans and the media, the better. I really hope F2 becomes more open, it would really benefit from that. I loved the atmosphere in the States! People were so friendly, they didn’t care about your results, they didn’t care what team you were in, they just wanted to support you as a driver. The atmosphere was lovely, I miss that.


PF – Our founders are two sisters, we’d love to know how you find it working so closely with your sister Paula?

TC - It’s great. We have been doing this for such a long time and she knows me so well. She knows if I give her a funny look that something is either good or bad. Sometimes I want her to be my manager but other times I just want her to be my sister. We fight quite a lot, but it's nice because with family you know they want the best for you and I can trust her. There are a lot of people out there that you can’t trust. So I’m very grateful to be able to travel the world with her!


PF - Finally, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

TC - If they can, you can! You can do whatever you put your mind to.


Thanks so much for your time and insight, we’re so happy to see you back!

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