A few months back I wrote an article for this website detailing the motor sport career of Susie Wolff and asking whether she really had the talent to competitively drive in F1, or was she simply a mediocre driver who received breaks, simply for being a women?
I’ll let you the reader decide whether this is a positive thing to do if indeed true. But as it is 2018 and Susie settles into retirement in Switzerland and as an “ambassador” for Mercecdes Benz (I’d like to see the job description and what it pays), it’s a good time to look at the latest female F1 hope – Tatiana Calderon.
As I stated in the Wolff article, and I’ll state again: I don’t have any issue with a woman driving in F1. I also don’t have any issue if one doesn’t drive in F1. What I do have an issue with fairly prominent motorsport commenters like Jennie Gow who peddle nonsense that F1 is diminished because there isn’t a female F1 driver. There aren’t any Chinese drivers in the sport either, yet I never hear her complaining about that. Now let’s look at Calderon.
Born into a fairly affluent family in Bogata Columbia in 1993, Calderon like most started her racing career in go-karts. Beginning in 2005, she had a fairly successful time karting over the next four years, winning a few races and overall be competitive. It was now time to move up.
In 2010, she began her single seat – open wheel career in the Star Mazda Championship driving for Juncos Racing in the US. The Star Mazda Championship is a step below Indy Lights and while difficult to compare to any other racing series, it would basically be a rough equivalent of F4 or F3. For 2010 she would have Conor Daly, the son of former F1 and Indy Car driver Derek Daly, as her teammate. (The first number in all the charts indicates the driver’s final position in championship and the last the total points scored.)
Clearly Juncos Racing had a race winning car. It is worth noting that of 9 drivers who competed in all rounds of the championship, Calderon finished 8th.
In 2011 again with Juncos Racing but with João Victor Horto as a teammate. Horto as of today no longer competes in motorsport.
As the next step after Star Mazda Championship would be Indy Lights, and as Calderon’s “dream” was F1, continuing in the US was a dead-end. It was time to head off to Europe.
For 2012 Calderon would compete in the European F3 Open Championship. This used to be known as the Spanish F3 Championship. She drove for Emilio de Villota Motorsport, her teammate for the season was a Swede named Måns Grenhagen, who incidentally, like Horto, doesn’t compete in motorsport today.
With a full season of a regional championship under her belt it was time to move to a full European series and for 2013 Calderon secured an F3 seat with Double R Racing, (which interestingly had originally been founded in 2004 by Kimi Raikonnen, though at this point he had sold out) and where her teammates would be Antonio Giovinazzi and Sean Gelael.
Calderon moved to Jo Zeller Racing for the 2014 F3 season and while she was the team’s only full-time driver, it’s interesting to compare her to a couple of notable drivers she competed against, who also are four / five years younger than she is.
2015 saw Calderon move to Carlin Motorsport for her third and final F3 season. Her teammates were George Russell and Callum Ilott. Both Russell and Ilott were 5 / 6 years younger than Calderon.
2016 saw Calderon take another step to her F1 ‘dream” when she moved up into GP3 with Arden International. Her teammates were Jake Dennis and Jack Aitken.
2017 in GP3 and another team switch. This time to DAMS where she had Daniel Ticktum, who would only compete in 5 of the 15 races and Bruno Baptista as teammates.
In 2018 Calderon will compete again in GP3 with the Jenzer racing team.
So there we have it. A 25 year old driver who is now in her 3rd year of GP3. In 6 F3 / GP3 seasons she has been in 6 different teams (it will be 7 seasons and 7 teams at the end of his year). She has never won a race, never won a podium and never finished first on her team with points. And with the exception of 2012, has always been in the bottom 5 of drivers who competed full-time in F3 or GP3. Yet this unremarkable, some would say abysmal, record somehow gained her a role as test driver with Sauber. There is little doubt in my mind it was due to Sauber, likely with a nudge from the FIA, pandering to the PC crowd.
If Tatiana Calderon is who Gow, Luke Smith and the rest of the English F1 press are championing to get into F1, maybe woman shouldn’t be in F1, as any objective analysis shows she has little or no talent for motor racing. Had she been a male – her racing career would have been over long ago.
Perhaps rather than forcing a driver with insufficient talent into F1, and ahead of others simply because of their gender; the FIA needs to have an honest look at why the path to top level motorsport is preventing us see women drive at the highest level. Can they ever compete with men in Formula One? Comments are welcome below…