Johannesburg - Colombian Tatiana Calderón has joined Sauber as a development driver, hoping to eventually break the male domination of the Formula One starting grid.
“I look forward to working with the team and learning as much as I can. It is a step closer to [fulfilling] my dream of one day competing in Formula One,” she said in a team statement.
The 23-year-old will race in the GP3 support series this season and will also embark on a Sauber programme that includes simulator training and working with engineers.
Swiss-based Sauber are the only team with a female principal, Monisha Kaltenborn, although former champions Williams are effectively run by founder Frank Williams’ daughter Claire.
Sauber previously had Swiss racer Simona de Silvestro as an “affiliated driver”, aiming to bring her to Formula One, but that ultimately came to nothing. She raced in the all-electric Formula E series and is now competing in Australia.
Formula One has not had a female driver start a Grand Prix since 1976.
Juan Pablo Montoya, a race winner for Williams and McLaren between 2001 and 2006, is one of only two Colombians to have started a Formula One Grand Prix. The other was Roberto Guerrero from 1982 to 1983.
“We are very pleased to welcome Tatiana to the Sauber family,” said Kaltenborn.
“We have the opportunities and facilities to provide Tatiana with a professional platform on which she can further develop her knowledge and skills in racing.
“I am convinced that we can provide lots of in-depth motorsport know-how for her future career in racing.”
Calderón finished second overall in the 2015-16 MRF Challenge Formula 2000 Championship and also raced in the GP3 Series – one of F1’s feeder competitions – which has also featured the likes of Esteban Gutiérrez, Daniil Kvyat and new Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.
Calderón will continue to drive in GP3 while taking part in Sauber’s development programme, which will include on-site coaching during F1 Grand Prix weekends. – Reuters