Season finale for Tatiana Calderon in Super Formula at Suzuka
Tatiana Calderón ended her second season in Super Formula with the series' finale at Suzuka, as a six-month absence translated into a difficult return for the Colombian. But Tatiana is now already looking ahead at this week's WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain.
It was challenging season for Colombian racing star Tatiana Calderón in Super Formula - Japanese highest rated single-seater championship. In her second year in the series, Calderón had to miss several rounds due to the travel restrictions and strict Japanese Covid protocols, which meant that she could only enter the two inaugural rounds at Fuji and Suzuka, and the final two races at Motegi and Suzuka. Her return to the series was met with a series of unfortunate technical troubles and brake issues ultimately caused her first DNF of the season at Twin Ring Motegi. At Suzuka, Tatiana was hoping to end the season on a high, having prior experience of the track from the round in April. “Going back to Suzuka is always special, it is undoubtedly a legendary circuit that challenges you in every aspect." - she commented. "The team and I have had time to analyze and study what happened in Motegi and we will make the necessary adjustments to close the season in the best possible way." "The weather is looking a little better this weekend and we have a plan on the set up that we will carry out during free practice so we can focus on maximizing the number of laps and aiming for a good qualifying. I'm sure I will really enjoy the last race of the season." - she added. Unfortunately, the free practice and qualifying sessions didn't go as planned, with Tatiana Calderón ending up in 19th place on the grid for the race on Sunday. Free practice 2 had a similar outcome but the warm-up showcased some of her potential with a very promising P11 ahead of the race. Pole sitter Nobuharu Matsushita (B-Max Racing Team) led the race from the start, ahead of Toshiki Oyu (TCS Nakajima Racing) - but his race was soon interrupted by a drive through penalty handed to him after jumping the start. Tomoki Nojiri (Team Mugen) earned the lead coming from 5th on the grid; he first jumped ahead of Nirei Fukuzumi (Dandelion Racing), before overtaking Tadasuke Makino (Dandelion Racing) and Toshiki Oyu when the latter ran wide. A close battle for the lead with different pit stop strategies heated up the race in the leading group; Fukuzumi pitted on lap 11 and Nojiri one lap later. Nojiri managed to hold on to first place after the stop, but Fukuzumi used his chance on warmer tyres and passed Nojiri for the lead. He would not give up the top spot until the chequered flag and claimed victory ahead of Ryo Hirakawa (Team Impul) and Nojiri - who lost his position due to a slower outlap after the stop on cold tyres. Having already sealed the 2021 Super Formula title at Motegi, Nojiri was followed in the standings by Nirei Fukuzumi, who moved up to second after his win at Suzuka. Impul was able to beat Dandelion in the team's championship standing. Tatiana Calderón was able to make up a position at the start to 18th after a fast getaway - and kept her position until the pitstop, where she dropped back to 19th where she eventually finished the last race of the season. "We didn't have the results that I know we could achieve, but we certainly grew as a team." - said Tatiana Calderon. "From the beginning we knew that we had a difficult task with a new team, a single car and I as a rookie in the category without knowing the car or the tracks." "I can't believe this is the end of the Super Formula season", she continued. "I feel like it was too short, probably because I missed three races." "I feel that we evolved every time we were on track. At the beginning of the season, coming from the tests, I think was very good; the end became more difficult due to my absence for six months with all the restrictions, but I am leaving with a good taste. I learned a lot." - summed up one of the highest rated female drivers in the world. But the racing season isn´t over for the Colombian, as she will be back in the LMP2 prototype with Richard Mille Racing at this week's 8 Hours of Bahrain, joining Beitske Visser and Sophia Flörsch.