Tatiana Calderón aims to smash Formula 1’s male stronghold

Remember the name Tatiana Calderón.

Tatiana Calderón, a 26-year-old from the Republic of Colombia, South America, is poised to become the first woman to race in the male domain of Formula 1 motor racing.

The last woman to race in Formula 1 racing, the elite motor sport, was Italian Leila Lombardi 43 years ago.

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Calderón is far more than a test driver for Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team. She is the first woman to race in the FIA Formula 2 Championship with BWT Arden.

Tatiana Calderón in her distinctive pink racing overalls

Already regarded as one of the most successful female racing drivers in the world, she represents the the tip of a new wave of female drivers. She is an ambassador for the FIA Women In Motorsport Commission, which was created in 2009 to give women a voice in the sport. She is also an advocate for Dare to be Different.

She became the first woman to win the national karting championships in Colombia and the US. She began racing cars at the age of 17 in the Star Mazda Championship, taking two podiums in the 2011 season, a victory in the 2014 Florida Winter Series, and was runner-up in the 2015–16 MRF Challenge Formula 2000 Championship.

She is also a spearhead for women in motor racing and has agreed to join the W series, the ground-breaking racing series for women launched in October 2018.

Calderón was the first woman to stand on the podium in the British Formula 3 International Series and the first woman to lead a lap in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. However, she knows how tough it is to break into the male-only sport of Formula 1 racing. She spends between two and four hours on physical activity when not racing or practicing. As Calderón moves up the racing ladder, driving becomes increasingly demanding on her body, requiring a continuous improvement of her condition in several areas, which usually requires more hours of work than what a male driver requires.

“I have definitely had a few doubts,” she told Forbes. “Particularly, when the results aren’t coming, and as a woman people will tell me that I will never be physically good enough. You can’t just focus on the results. I am doing this because I love the speed and I love the adrenaline. I love being in a race car. I can never imagine my life without racing. Whenever I was thinking of quitting, I felt that there was nowhere I’d rather be than in a race car. It is tough, but I love challenges.”

Asked how she responds to the criticism that she will never be physically strong enough to handle a race car, she replies bluntly.

“Firstly, I feel like asking them what do they know because it is mostly guys who say that. How do they know how we think or how we act or how our bodies are? It obviously pisses me off that people think this way and they try to put limits on your performance. But it motivates me even more because I want to prove them wrong — to prove that I am capable of competing at the highest level. I have always taken those comments as an extra motivation. In a way it has made me a better driver and [given me] a better understanding of myself.”

Tatiana Calderón is racing in Formula 2 for the rest of the year. If she is denied a car in Formula 1, she’ll seek a sponsor to continue in Formula 2 in 2020.

“My goal is to 100% get to Formula 1,” she told Forbes. “I know I can do it. It is just about putting everything together in the right moment.”

Tatiana Calderón

Tatiana Calderón has already accepted an invitation to attend the W Series 2020 driver selection event in Almeria, southern Spain, to share her extensive racing experience and learn more about the international single-seater championship on Monday 16 September.

“We have been watching Tatiana’s career with great interest, and she is clearly one of the most successful female drivers in the world. We have seen some brilliant talent emerge during our first W Series season, and so naturally we are really happy to have her support. With her experience she already knows the strengths you need to succeed,” said W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir.

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