"I feel grateful for having a second chance, getting to start eight more races after it seemed like my 2022 season was over as early as June" - Two months after her hand injury in Monza, Tatiana Calderon returned behind the wheel and completed her return season in FIA F2.
Tatiana Calderon's 2022 season looked like it had come to an early end in June, when she announced she wouldn't be able to continue her rookie Indycar campaign due to a sponsor issue. Then, all of a sudden, the incredible opportunity arrived: Tatiana could jump back into a single seater with Charouz Racing System, also thanks to the support of Colombian singer Karol G, AVL, Terpel and Escudería Telmex Telcel.
Her partial season in FIA Formula 2 began in Spa, where she worked hard to adapt to the car - which she had not driven since 2019 - then continued in Zandvoort, where luck definitely wasn't on her side and then Monza, a track that she massively enjoys but that saw her getting injured in a crash at the first corner.
The two-month calendar break helped Tatiana get back on track after her hand fracture, She had the opportunity to complete a test day in a shifter kart in order to feel the condition of her hand in a demanding situation and felt ready to get back behind the wheel of her F2 car.
In addition to her fitness routine, she also underwent specific training to regain strength in her right hand, including a few days in the AVL simulator, where she got a first taste of the SUB2r technology, a company that develops and produces special lenses originally designed for esports, which can help improve performance.
Tatiana's last visit to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi was in 2019, and since then the layout of the 5.281km track has changed considerably. The removal of the chicane that used to be at turns 5 and 6, as well as the introduction of a long left-hander at what used to be turns 11 to 14, has made the track more of a high-speed challenge.
The Colombian also has fond memories of the track, as some of her best GP3/FIA F3 results were achieved at the UAE circuit, as well as a podium finish when she competed in the MRF Formula 2000 series of which she was runner-up.
"It's been a while since I've been in a race car, so I'm looking forward to racing again in Abu Dhabi, especially after what happened in Monza", Tatiana said before the race weekend.
"It was good to have a two-month break in the schedule to allow my hand to fully recover."
"I haven't been to Abu Dhabi since 2019, so it will be my first time at the new track, but it's a place I like with the heat, and the tyre compounds we've already used. I will do my best to get the best possible result and at the same time enjoy the weekend", she added.
After two months of recovery, Calderon was therefore back in Abu Dhabi for the last round of the championship - already won by Felipe Drugovich (MP Motorsport) back in the Monza's Sprint race - and she was ready to end 2022 on a positive note. She qualified 21st on Friday afternoon, with a gap of 1.538 from pole-man Ayumu Iwasa (DAMS).
The first race of the weekend went underway on Saturday, right before F1's last qualifying session of the year, and had drama right from the start: reverse grid poleman Richard Verschoor (Trident) maintained the lead, but as soon as the pack arrived at turn 3, the race was red flagged. Enzo Fittipaldi (Charouz Racing System) and Jehan Daruvala (PREMA Racing) had collided and crashed heavily into the outside barrier.
Luckily both drivers were unhurt and the race resumed just in time to keep the race distance unaltered, but was a rather uneventful contest: a few drivers battled for important points - like Logan Sargeant (Carlin), who needed to collect points to get his superlicence and race in F1 with Williams next year. In the end, Liam Lawson (Carlin) took the lead around the 10th lap and claimed victory in Race 1. He was joined on the podium by Richard Verschoor and Felipe Drugovich.
Tatiana Calderon battled hard and showed some good pace to finish P20, with high hopes to make more progress during the feature race on Sunday.
The last race of the 2022 Formula 2 season saw the green flag on Sunday morning, when pole-sitter Iwasa was able to win for the first time in the category. The race was off to a thrilling start, with plenty of battles in the midfield - and was relatively trouble-free until the round of pit stops.
The only safety cars deployed were VSC intervention - the first time when Ralph Boschung (Campos) spun and was unable to restart; Tatiana had a great reaction and took avoiding action, as she found the Swiss driver right in front of her.
Tatiana was one of the last drivers to pit for new tyres; she started the race on the hardest compound and switched to the soft one for the last few laps. She finished P18, equalling her best result of the season.
The second VSC was brought out right after she rejoined the track, when Jack Doohan (UNI Virtuosi) lost his front left tyre, which was almost collected by the drivers behind him.
It was ultimately another hectic end to a 2022 championship: Ayumu Iwasa held off the attacks of Felipe Drugovich and took victory, ahead of the Brazilian and Liam Lawson.
The Formula 2 Championship will be back at the beginning of March in Bahrain but the 2023 field is still mostly uncertain.
"I feel grateful for having a second chance, getting to start eight more races after it seemed like my 2022 season was over as early as June."
"[I] made progress across the four weekends of FIA Formula 2, came back from the setback of the injury at Monza and found more pace in our last race with Charouz Racing System." Tatiana said.
While there are no official plans yet for her next racing season, Tatiana Calderon can be proud of her achievements at her return, as a female presence at the top of the world's motor racing series is always important. For this reason, all her sponsors must be commended. Motorsport needs more initiatives to bring more women in the feeder series - and we can't wait to learn more about Calderon's next programs.