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GP Week : Issue 193
F1 >>> FEATUrE 24 GPWEEK.com // 24 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: GPWeeK: so Force India reserve driver; got a nice ring to it – excited about that? JAMES CALADO: It’s fantastic. It’s a great opportunity for me. It’s really nice to be able to do the Fridays. I’m just having loads of fun, learning as much as I can as quickly as possible and just trying to help the team, develop the team going for ward and doing everything the race drivers do other than actually race the car. You did the Young Driver Test in silverstone in July. Did you expect at that time you’d be a Force India reserve driver? AllIhadtodoisdoagoodjobanddo the best I could. Obviously I knew there was a good chance, and shortly after the Young Driver Test it was announced. Doing a good job there and showing some potential and speed was key to the final decision, and it’s just a matter now of progressing on and learning as much as I can, especially with the Fridays – it’s all very well doing a test, there’s much less pressure and it’s a different environment. When you come to your first grand prix, it’s more intense and really important not to make any silly mistakes but just to give good feedback to the team so they can progress forward, especially for the driver that’s not done Free Practice 1. I think the Young Driver Test was the first time you drove a Formula One car... I’d done two straight-line tests before that. But first time around a corner was Silverstone. And it was a big shock – it feels really quick. Through Maggots and Becketts... Amazing! Obviously realised I need to train the neck a bit more. But from that, in a couple of months, to FP1 at a circuit like Monza... must have been quite amazing. Two completely different tracks as well. And the reason for doing Monza actually was primarily because it’s a low downforce circuit and at the same weekend I was driving a GP2 car and the difference between the two wasn’t so big as it would be, for example, at Silverstone. So it was a good, good starting point, good introduction and nice to be able to carry on going for ward. Like you say, you probably didn’t feel the difference that much between a GP2 and Formula One at Monza but... Obviously you still have the ratio, but I think it’s not quite as big. Is that why at Monza you were just half a second shy of Paul’s time in FP1 and you looked like you were exploring the limits of the track which you wouldn’t do if you weren’t confident in the car? I’ve been to Monza a few times before, so I had really good track knowledge. The majority of the track is all about good engine, low downforce, high speed. When you come to somewhere like Korea it’s a bit tougher, because it was my first time and it’s a really tough last sector. It’s a longer track, so the time difference between the two is for sure going to be bigger. But when you look at FP1 in Yeongam, actually, as time went on I progressed and I was up to speed on the race runs, set similar times to the two race drivers. It’s tough for a young driver because you obviously only have the one set of tyres but the team, they’ve got all the data and so much information, they know if you’re doing a good job, even if you are at the bottom of the timesheets. so it’s just basically easier to get into the groove with a circuit like Monza where you’ve been there before...? Yeah, track knowledge is key. The Pirelli tyre degrades so quickly that, really, you’ve only got two laps of peak performance and then after that you see high degradation. So for me, when I don’t know the track, I’m not 100 percent comfortable in pushing in a Formula One car straight away; it’s tough when you’ve only got two laps to do a good time. My peak performance is always at the end when the tyres are completely destroyed, especially when you’re on a green track. So it’s hard. But it’s good, still able to drive it quick enough to give good data. When you go into the Young Driver Test, obviously you want to impress, you want to show how quick you are but then again you have to be disciplined... Not to crash... ...Well that too and also work to the team’s programme and not go for just out and out speed. At the end of the day, I’m here to help the team and while doing that I’m learning at the same time. But the first time you drive a Formula One car, with limited testing opportunities, you probably think that is your one big shot to impress. How difficult is to be disciplined and work to the team’s programme rather than ...? Myself? Yeah, exactly! It’s not entirely all team programme. I think what’s really good about Sahara Force India is that they’ve progressed young drivers and helped young drivers be ready for when they need to be a race driver in Formula One. This is probably one of the only teams that’s able to do that properly, which is really encouraging. When you look at Nico Hulkenberg, [Jules] Bianchi, Paul [di Resta], they’ve all come through and been developed properly as a driver, so it gives me encouragement and that’s quite positive. since early in your career, you’ve been backed by the Racing steps Foundation