It didn’t take long for new A.J. Foyt Racing driver Tatiana Calderon to get down to business in her first NTT IndyCar Series test in more than six months. Following the Colombian’s outing with the Foyt team at Mid-Ohio in July — more of a familiarization run than a hardcore outing — she embraced the chance to dive into the intricacies of the No. 11 Dallara DW12-Chevy on Wednesday at Sebring International Raceway.
Foyt teammate Kyle Kirkwood led the unofficial times with a lap of 52.739s in the No. 14 Chevy, and with a best of 53.250s produced in her car, the gap of 0.481s should give rise to optimism for Calderon’s chances on her road and street course program.
“It was so nice to be back in the car, because at Mid-Ohio, we didn’t do that many changes on the setup and on the dampers,” she told RACER. “And it was a really different kind of track with no bumps. So I think now I’ve got a feeling of how St. Pete will look like and some of the street courses with all the bumps I felt today.
“It was great to get back with the team as well, too, and I think we get along really well. Like Kyle said, we’re working good together as a team, and everybody’s sharing a lot. Sometimes in European racing, it’s difficult. They don’t give you all the information and all the setup changes they’re making. So I was super pleased. There’s for sure a lot of room for improvement. Particularly, I’d like to know this [Firestone primary] tire a little bit better. We changed some little things on my driving style to suit that type of tire a little bit better, but I’m super happy with the day.”
— Tatiana Calderon (@TataCalde) January 20, 2022
The 28-year-old veteran of American, European, and Japanese open-wheel racing worked with race engineer Mike Pawlowski at Sebring, and got to know the rest of the team as Foyt continues to search for all of the necessary staff to run its expanded three-car operation for Kirkwood, the returning Dalton Kellett, and Calderon.
“I felt like all my comments were taken in the right way, so every time we went out on track, I felt like we were improving and was exactly what I needed,” she explained. “It’s nice to have that kind of communication and I think they all worked really close and were really open.
“Obviously now it’s gonna be three cars, there’s a lot of other people that need to be hired as well from the team, but so far, I think the atmosphere here, people are so friendly. I just feel welcome, and it has not been this way in a long time for me. I think we got off to a good start here.”