Tatiana Calderon: “We’ve done the hard part, now we need some luck!”
In her first column since becoming a GP3 driver, Tatiana Calderon looks back on the first three rounds of a campaign that has left her frustrated – but at the same time confident for the future.
Welcome to my latest Motorsport.com column! It's been a while since I last wrote one of these – nearly six months in fact – and since then a third of the GP3 season has already gone by, which seems crazy!
I'd be lying if I said it has gone according to plan so far, because after six races I'm still stuck on zero points. I guess then I'd be forgiven for feeling downbeat, but to be honest I'm encouraged by the pace that me and my Arden team have shown so far this year, even if we've not been rewarded for it.
In sheer pace terms, we've been pretty strong at all three circuits we've visited so far, especially Barcelona and Silverstone, and compared to other years I've been much more competitive in terms of one-lap speed.
I think that's because, from the very first pre-season test, I've felt comfortable in the car, which I think suits my style much better than F3. We have a set-up that is stable on entry: I really like to be in charge of the thing on entry to the corner, and then rotate the car with the way I come off the brakes.
Of course, there are always certain things that we can do better to avoid certain issues, but I've definitely had more than my fair share of bad luck, starting in Barcelona, where me and my Arden teammates Jake Dennis and Jack Aitken all had our weekends compromised by clutch issues.
We managed to solve that in time for the second round at the Red Bull Ring, although there I have to blame myself for what happened in the first race.
I was running just outside the points in P11 when I locked up badly and damaged the tyres, which dropped me down the order, and later I got squeezed between Kevin Jorg and Steijn Schothorst, who managed to make my car the filling in an Arden sandwich!
But it was the first time we raced with five degrees of downforce at the rear, so I should have gone rearwards with the brake bias, and I didn't.
I learned from that, although there wasn't anything I could do about being rear-ended by Charles Leclerc in the wet second race…
Silverstone was probably the most encouraging weekend of all, even though it was the worst on paper, because it's a track that I've never done well at in the past – and yet I had the pace.
Unfortunately, in qualifying the team made the mistake of leaving it too late to send me out on fresh tyres because it was going to rain and there was a high chance of a red flag, which of course was the case when Leclerc and Santino Ferrucci came together.
Then I had another clutch issue at the start of the first race, and then twice in the second race the car went into 'safe mode', which eventually led to Jake Hughes going into the back of me during the second Virtual Safety Car period.
Without some of those problems, I think I could have been fighting for points and maybe even to get some reverse grid poles. When you put our best sectors together, we're there in the mix, in the top eight.
And the fact that I was quick at Silverstone means now I believe we can be quick anywhere – we've already done the hard bit, which is to have the pace, so now we just need to fine tune those details and start putting everything together.
It's never easy when things aren't going the way you want them to, but over the years I've learned you need to be patient. There's still two thirds of the season left to go, 12 races and 12 opportunities to score points, starting next weekend in Hungary.
We're on the right path, and I know it won't be long before the good times finally arrive!
Until next time,
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