James Calado was born in Worcestershire, England on 13th June 1989 and like most racing drivers he developed a passion for motorsport very early on. Karting was James’ first experience of racing and in 1999 he impressed in his first championship, winning for the England Inter-Nationals Cadet Team.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and James sits in front of us proudly wearing his Kaspersky Motorsport team jacket to go through a few questions for the fans.
How did you get into racing?
“Well, let me think back and try and remember that. My dad was really into motorsport, but didn’t have that opportunity to become a racing driver. Being the first son, he introduced me to the world of Karting aged 7 or 8. I couldn’t even reach the pedals! Ha, I remember my first race where I set the lap record!”
Who was your childhood hero? What did you learn from them?
“Ermm, everyone says Senna and of course he was the hero back in that time. But you cannot look past Michael Schumacher. He was someone that that I looked up to in the Ferrari era. He had the #1 status.”
Do you remember your first race? Can you tell us what you were feeling?
“Yes, I was REALLY nervous in my first ever race at Shenington and it was a snowy Friday. I had always wanted to get to the grid an hour early to set-up and remember standing with dad waiting with the trolley and there were no other racers on the grid, ha! It was probably down to the inexperience that we had or the eagerness to get the race started.”
When has been your happiest moment?
“My most emotional moment was driving in a Formula 1 car for first time for Force India. It wasn’t even on a racetrack, but they had wanted me to do a VMAX directly, so I would be flat with DRS open in a straight line. I remember feeling the power! Then when I pumped the break, I nearly lost my head from off my shoulders! The novelty of driving that car has remained with me forever.”
What was it like to take the pole in Spa and the fastest GT lap title?
“Wow, it was unexpected. I remember jumping into the car and all of a sudden had amazing grip on track, much better than the earlier Free Practice session. Half way around the lap, I lost rear grip but I had to keep pushing and through the last corner nearly lost it. But the actual lap potential would have been even faster. However, as soon as I crossed the line the counter flashed up in the car and I knew we were first, 2:17.3 and a lap record.”
What has been your biggest challenge in your motorsport career?
“What was really tough was my last year in GP2, where you are under massive pressure to try and win the championship; the car wasn’t performing like it was the year before. I couldn’t find the speed or the right balance. The same time I was driving with Formula 1’s Force India, I needed to impress them. But the line was so fine between stepping into Formula 1 and GP2. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the investment that would help me race in Formula 1. However, silver lining, I got to race for Ferrari.”
When you are not racing, what do you like to do to relax?
“BEER! Haha, No I like to keep fit and stay sharp and cycle, but I try and take my mind away from racing, even though I love what I do.”
Have you had any funny moments in motorsport?
“Well, I’ve done the usual; spinning on outlaps, doing more laps than I needed. Actually, there is one funny moment. On my second test in Formula 1, I was accelerating down the straight and spun. It wasn’t until later that my team had told me that they had needed to switch the engine off from the garage! Ahh, the technology is on another level.”
What’s you all-time favourite corner on a circuit and why?
“Eau-Rouge. No other words needed.”
What’s your perfect off-track car?
Wow, it was unexpected. I remember jumping into the car and all of a sudden had amazing grip on track, much better than the earlier Free Practice session. Half way around the lap, I lost rear grip but I had to keep pushing and through the last corner nearly lost it. But the actual lap potential would have been even faster. However, as soon as I crossed the line the counter flashed up in the car and I knew we were first, 2:17.3 and a lap record. James Calado