Tatiana Calderón is a Colombian-born, Madrid-based driver who developed a love for racing at an early age when she discovered go-karting at nine years old. Recently, she was named a development driver for the Sauber F1 Team, bringing her one step closer to driving in a Formula One race (which is significant, considering a female driver hasn't been on the starting grid of an F1 race in more than 40 years). Today, Tatiana talks about what it's like being a woman in a male-dominated sport, reveals her race-day ritual, and shares her low-maintenance beauty routine.
Can you tell us a little bit about what it's like being a racing driver?
It's very entertaining. I have to travel to most of the races; in my case, none of them take place where I live (Madrid). The physical trainings are also very important, in particular as a woman, because we have 30 percent less muscle mass than men. I train every day between three to five hours. But, I can't complain — I'm a sports lover, so I enjoy everything I do. I also see a mental coach — you have to be really focused and mentally strong to be able to win and succeed.
How did you get into racing? Has driving always been a passion of yours?
At age nine, I went to a go-kart track with my sister, and I discovered my passion there. We started to go every day after school until we convinced our parents to buy us a racing kart. Before that, I had tried many other sports, like soccer, tennis and horse riding, but nothing else made me feel the way racing did (and still does!).
You were recently named a development driver for the Sauber F1 Team (congratulations!). What has that been like so far?
Thank you! It's amazing. I finally feel like I'm closer to my dream of being an official F1 racing driver. I've had the opportunity to be in the tests with the team, and I've learned a lot from them. I've been able to see how an F1 team works, and I've enjoyed every second of it. I'll do some simulator sessions with the team as well, to learn more about the F1 car and test new set ups the teams want to try.
What is it like being a woman in a male dominated sport?
It's always hard. People never expect anything from you, so every time you race you have to prove yourself and show them you are there to compete, no matter your gender. With the other drivers it can be difficult because most of the time they'd prefer to crash into you before saying a woman ended up in front of them. You have to earn respect from them, and that sometimes costs you a few races and results in some crashes. As a woman, I also have less muscle mass, so my training needs to be stronger to be able to compensate for the strength difference.
Do you have any race day rituals that help you get ready to be behind the wheel?
I listen to music before each race, depending on my mood. If I feel I'm kind of lazy, I use music to bring me up. I also warm up with a bit of cardio and exercises to train my reflexes.
Do you have a regular fitness routine that helps you stay race ready?
Yes, I train every day. Usually, I follow a plan my trainer has designed for me. We have to focus on my upper body, mainly my shoulders and forearms. We also need to work my legs, but less than my arms. The core is also very important when driving, so I do a lot of workouts that strengthen my core.
I usually do cardio between three to four times a week. Sometimes, I go for a run or a bike ride. Swimming is something I also include in my training, as it works out every muscle in your body and relaxes you.
What's your daily skin care routine?
I wash my face every morning in the shower and in the evening with an Aveda Botanical Kinetics organic soap, as I like things to be as natural as possible.
What makeup do you typically wear?
I don't like to use too much makeup, as an athlete you want to look natural. I train every day for many hours, so most of the time I'm sweating! When I have a meeting or I'm going out, I'll use Benefit Cosmetics, foundation, face powder, a bit of blush, mascara and go.
How do you usually style your hair?
If I have something special, I'll iron my hair, but usually I just have it natural, as I have long hair.
How do you dress up your look for a special occasion?
Depending on the weather, I'll wear boots or flats (the truth is, I can't stand heels!). A good necklace can make all the difference.
You're used to moving at such a fast pace — how do you destress when you want to slow down?
I'm always looking for nice places to have a good coffee. That's something I always miss from Colombia. I also like to go to the spa for a good massage.
How do you stay inspired and motivated?
I love what I do and I have a clear goal: to race in Formula 1. That's my everyday motivation. I train and work very hard to achieve it, and now I feel I'm getting closer.
What's one piece of advice you'd give your younger self?
Be patient. You always want to see results, and in sports (and in life), sometimes you have to "fail" to understand and come back stronger. If you are determined and work hard, the results will come. Just be patient, because it takes time.
When do you feel most comfortable in your own skin?
Behind the wheel. I love driving because I'm pushing myself to the limit and I'm in control of the car — and that's what I love most!
How would you describe your approach to beauty?
My approach to beauty is to be as natural as possible. You don't need to wear a lot of makeup to look better, just a bit is more than enough.
Be sure to follow Tatiana on Instagram, and check back next week for the latest installment of 52 Faces, a weekly series that spotlights inspiring women and their beauty routines. Last week, Cat Taylor, a woman who quit her San Francisco startup job to travel around South America by bicycle, talked about making big life changes, learning the ins and outs of biking via YouTube videos, and developing an on-the-road skin care routine.