Calderon thought she'd be "further off" at Fuji

Jamie Klein

After a tough season in Formula 2 last year, Calderon was handed a surprise chance to extend her single-seater career when she was selected to spearhead Ryo Michigami's Drago Corse team on its return to Super Formula after a three-year hiatus.

The Colombian got her first taste of the SF19 car she will race in last week's Fuji test, albeit ending up 20th and slowest overall, just under two seconds off the pace set by sometime GP3 rival Nirei Fukuzumi on the second day of running.

"We did a step [on Wednesday], both with the car and myself," Calderon told Motorsport.com. "Unfortunately I was even quicker on old tyres than new tyres, so we need to understand what happened there. But much happier, much more confident. 

"It was good to have a few runs with high fuel and long-ish runs to see a little bit what the tyres are going to do in terms of degradation or overheating. But definitely one-lap pace, as usual, is going to be tough; I still need to understand how to warm up the tyre and when to push.

"For sure it’s going to be a huge challenge. I’m the only one in the team so it’s going to be hard to get information and data, to share with somebody with experience of this car or this tyre. I don’t know what is normal and what is not.

"But generally if we can catch up to the group and be fighting people there, that should be a good starting point for the season."

Tatiana Calderon, ThreeBond DRAGO CORSE

Tatiana Calderon, ThreeBond DRAGO CORSE Masahide Kamio

Masahide Kamio

Asked whether she was happy with the gap to the pace, she replied: "Yeah, I was a bit afraid I was going to be further off. I still have a gap to improve on my driving and a little bit getting more comfortable with some set-up changes. I’m optimistic for what’s to come."

This year, Calderon is working with the same race engineer who was assigned to Team Kunimitsu pair Naoki Yamamoto and Jenson Button in SUPER GT, Hitoshi Iyoki.

On her first impressions of working with the Drago squad and of Japan in general, she said: "It’s been very enjoyable so far. They are really open and really want to help.

"So far, so good. Everything is new, a different culture but I am liking it quite a lot so we’ll see how it goes from now."

With the second Super Formula test that had been planned for this weekend at Suzuka now postponed, Calderon is due to return to her base in Spain this week.