The roar of engines and the rhythm of reggaeton resonate in the heart to deliver a message against machismo. Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon and her sponsor, singer Karol G, are driving feminism onto the racetrack.
In July, Tatiana Calderon’s sponsor abruptly stopped funding her team, AJ Foyt Racing, which was funding two other single-seaters in the IndyCar Championship.
But it was the driver who lost her place in the main American single-seater car competition, where she was the only woman in the paddock, a first since the Italian-Swiss Simona de Silvestro in 2013.
« They made me get out of the car » in the middle of the race, says the pilot. « The determining factor (of my ousting) was money, but anyway people continue to trust a man more than a woman, » she told AFP.
After two months in search of a new sponsor, Tatiana Calderon has found a place in the Charouz Racing System, a Czech Formula 2 team, the category in which she was the very first to line up, in 2019.
A new beginning made partly possible by an unusual patron: her compatriot and singer symbol of feminism, Karol G, star of reggaeton.
Motorsport and music, two mediums with ambient machismo, moreover on the Latin American continent. Perfect places for these two determined women.
– « Makinon » and « Bichota » –
With the support of the one who has won the Latin American Music Awards nine times and a Latin Grammy, Tatiana Calderon can pay her engineers, her mechanics or even her engines for the year 2022.
In honor of her patron, the pilot named her racing car the « Makinon ». A reference to a song by Karol G.
The Colombian pilot also launched on the circuits with flags flanked by the word « Bichota », Karol G’s flagship expression which designates a « sexy », « daring » and « strong » woman.
Tatiana Calderon fully identifies with this cause and « with the message of female emancipation that she wants to convey ».
« I believe that women’s sport also needs the support of companies because almost everything is done for men », comments the pilot.
Karol G has suffered from machismo in music production and the « sexualization » of women in reggaeton, a musical genre very popular in her hometown of Medellin, Colombia. And beyond throughout Latin America and the United States, constantly gaining new audiences, particularly in Spain but also in many European and Asian countries.
Tatiana Calderon, originally from Bogota and now living in Spain, suffered from the same gender discrimination in the paddocks and on the circuits.
« The same thing happens here (in the automobile). You have to earn the credibility of your engineers, your mechanics (…). There are a lot of elements in cars that are designed for men and all the simulations for training are based on the experiences of men because there are very few women, » she explains.
From her first national championship, when she was a teenager, macho comments flared up.
« I would like to be able to say that I have always been treated as an equal (with the men), but that would be a lie », confides the one who was a test and reserve driver for Sauber and Alfa Romeo Racing in Formula 1.
– « Models » –
What to imagine one day the passage in F1, the premier category of motorsport?
Recently, Stefano Domenicali, ex-Ferrari boss now at the helm of F1, said that « realistically, unless a meteorite crashes into the earth, I don’t see how a woman could compete in Formula 1 within the next five years ».
A comment that the Colombian has trouble digesting: « that people tell you that you can’t doesn’t help that girls want to go karting or get into the car. I think we needs role models, » she concludes.
Hers are surely Maria Teresa de Filippis and Lella Lombardi, two Italians, the only women to have taken the start of an F1 GP, respectively in 1958 and 1975-76.
Three other women participated in the trials without managing to qualify: the English Divina Galica (1976 and 1978), the South African Désirée Wilson (1980) and the Italian Giovanna Amati (1992).