15 years ago, Tatiana Calderón fell in love with go-karting in Colombia.
She was hooked ever since. At only 9 years old, Calderón knew that she was destined to race. From go-karts to F1 racing, Tatiana Calderón is proof that childhood dreams can come true. But the journey wasn’t always easy. As a female F1 racer racing for Alfa Romeo she faced some challenges throughout her career. And now she’s using her experience and her voice to help other female racers.
The Girl in the F1 Suit
I got to chat with Tatiana Calderón recently to learn more about her journey. She was fun to talk to, humble and has a great story. But Calderón is more than a race car driver. She’s a trailblazer, an overachiever, a girl who didn’t let obstacles get in her way.
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Strength Training and Proper Engineering Are the Winning Formula for Tatiana
Engineers told her to work out more, that she needed to be stronger to brake properly. And it’s true, Formula 1 racing is not an easy sport for women. This is simply because women and men are not built the same. It’s not a matter of speed or ability; the measurements are different, where the hands go, proper seating and more. Calderón recalls being told by engineers to work on strength building because she was not able to hit the brake hard enough. But even her trainer said that was impossible because she had been training harder and was stronger than many other race car drivers. So Calderón placed a Go-Pro camera at the pedals, discovering that pressure modifications were needed. Once the changes were made, Tatiana Calderón could compete.
“Women can compete but we need the right modifications in design. We have 30% less muscle mass than men,” says Calderón.
Now racing for Alfa Romeo, Calderón finally feels at home with her team. She is treated as an equal in a team that feels more like a family. She works closely with the engineers to ensure that she gets the best drive.
Fun facts about Tatiana Calderón
- When she knew she wanted to race: 9 years old, after experiencing go- karting.
- Where her journey began: In Colombia, later in the United States, and now in Spain where she has lived for the past 9 years.
- Prep time for F1 racing: 15 years.
- People she admires: Pro Tennis player Roger Federer but in motorsports, Juan Pablo Montoya, a pro Colombian race car driver. When she met Montoya, he told her, “Si ellos pueden, usted tambien.” meaning, “if they(men) can do it, so can you.”
- Favorite Alfa Romeo models: Stelvio and Giulia
Hard Work Pays Off
Calderón spends 3 hours a few times a week in a simulator which she is able to connect with the engineers virtually (because of Covid). It’s important for her to build strength for the sport. In fact, her neck grew by 9 cm since she began training, but those are the things that come with this type of dream job.
On her down time, Calderón enjoys drinking coffee, nature, riding her bicycle, unplugging and watching Netflix.
Tatiana’s Message for Girls Who Dream of Racing
For Calderón, it wasn’t an easy task to get to Formula 1 racing. Coming from Colombia, she worked hard to gain respect in a male dominated industry. She points out that she is grateful to be on a team that doesn’t treat her differently because of gender, but appreciates her for her skill. Calderón encourages other women to fight hard for what you want in the industry. She is now using her voice to inspire girls 8-12 years old to join a program called, Dare to Be Different (also known as FIA Girls on Track). The program teaches girls that race car driving is a career option. Calderón is also part of the FIA Women in Motorsport group that helps create opportunities for women. One of her efforts is pushing to get correct measurements and more women into the industry since the number or female race car drivers is still low. Her message to young girls:
“When you work hard at what you are passionate about, it’s possible. No limits! Challenge yourself and dream big!” -Tatiana Calderón