Alfa Romeo’s Female Test Driver Leaves F1 for IndyCar

Tatiana Calderón

Columbia’s Tatiana Calderon will be the first woman in full-time IndyCar competition in nine years, the team announced Monday. She will be driving the 11 Chevrolet for legendary AJ Foyt Racing. She’ll add a third car to the team, competing on all road and street-course races, which will be twelve out of the seventeen races this year, although no driver has been confirmed for the remaining oval events. She is, however, interested in oval racing in the future after she has gained some “confidence in the car.” It’s a big step for the sport, and for the team, with Calderon being the first female driver in the team’s nearly-60 year history.

She comes to the IndyCar world after a four-year stint as test driver for the Alfa Romeo and Sauber Formula 1 teams, joining several drivers within the sport to come from F1, although she says “IndyCar has been a reference for me, and it’s a dream come true to be on the grid this year,” and follow in the footsteps of her icon Juan Pablo Montoya. Calderon started her career as the first woman to win karting championships in her native Columbia and in the United States, and followed that up by breaking records all the way up to F3 with a podium and laps led, another first for a woman. Positive results of her test in an AJ Foyt at Mid-Ohio car last year confirmed the interest of the team and got talks started.

The talks led to her bringing sponsorship from the ROKiT brand, which will adorn two cars for the team. The brand has been with her for the past two years since her endeavors in the World Endurance Championship. ROKiT CEO Jonathan Kendrick said the brand noticed her “talent and charisma,” and added that “Tatiana is already a role model to many young female drivers around the world and we think the huge exposure of the IndyCar Series will serve only to increase her reach even further to become an inspiration to many more women to get involved in motorsports.”

Calderon will have her first official test as a Foyt driver this week at Sebring and will debut for the team on the streets of St. Petersburg on February 27th. Indy 500-champion owner AJ Foyt said “Tatiana showed a lot of potential in her test at Mid-Ohio,” and projected “a very exciting season” for the newly-expanded team. Calderon summed up the experience: “I’m well aware of the challenge ahead, but this is the chance of a lifetime, and I’m keen on making the most of it.”

Owen Johnson