Ferrari's Calado continuing to raise his level

Now in his fourth season as a Ferrari factory driver, James Calado is hoping he can continue to raise his game in 2017.

The Briton moved into the No. 51 car alongside team stalwart Gianmaria Bruni and found a new level, outscoring everybody after Le Mans and finishing on the podium in seven out of the nine races.

However, two non-scores at Spa Francorchamps and Le Mans meant Calado and Bruni were always playing catch-up and lost out to the championship-winning No. 95 Aston Martin of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen.

While his contribution ensured Ferrari were crowned GT Manufacturers champions, 27-year-old Calado is determined that this will be the year he adds the Drivers’ title to his CV.

“Last year was one of the hardest years and obviously being put with Gimmi is not easy, because his position in Ferrari is very strong,” Calado said.

“My expectations needed to be raised and I had to learn a lot, but I did just that from Gimmi, I improved and am continuing to improve even now.

“I’ll come back this year fitter, more experienced, quicker – the world title is the only option.”

The Ferrari 488 GTE was quick immediately out of the box in 2016, but suffered an engine problem in qualifying at Silverstone that required Calado and Bruni to start from the back of the grid with a three-minute penalty.

A similar issue cost them victory at Spa, just 10 minutes before the finish.

“Last year was unlucky, we could have got it without that bad luck, but everyone can say that, it’s just the way it pans out,” he continued.

“The performance was there, we were one of the only ones who showed our true potential from the start, hoping that we would score maximum points from the first three races, but we had reliability issues, so we lost a lot of points there.

“In the second half of the season, we still scored the most points, but we just didn’t win because of the misfortune at the start.”

Calado’s team-mate in the No. 51 car has yet to be confirmed by Ferrari, but he stressed that the drivers will have a crucial role to play this year to extract the best from the existing package.

“The car is at its maximum potential, the only restriction is the BOP,” he said. “The drivers need to make a bit of a difference if the BOP doesn’t change and we’ll see where we are.” 

James Newbold