The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team has announced Tatiana Calderon as the team’s Test Driver for the upcoming 2018 campaign. The Colombian joined the Switzerland based team as a development driver in 2017 and was, on Tuesday, promoted as the team’s official Test Driver for the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Calderon’s main objective will be to complete simulator training sessions and coaching with the engineers both during race weekends and at the team’s headquarters in Hinwil, Switzerland. The team is yet to confirm if she will be given an opportunity to test the car during the practice sessions over the course of the season.

Tatiana Calderon Tatiana Calderon will be the Sauber F1 team's Test Driver during the upcoming 2018 campaign. Photo: Getty

The Colombian is the second female driver to be signed by Sauber, after they previously employed Simona de Silvestro as an affiliate driver in 2014 with the hope of giving her a race seat in 2015. The Swiss driver however was released after nine months due to contractual issues.

Calderon was delighted at the promotion to the test role and vowed to continue her development and help the team going into the new campaign. If the Colombian does get a chance to drive the car during an official practice session, she will be only the second woman to do so in 26 years after Susie Wolff tested the Williams at the British Grand Prix in 2014.

"I am very pleased to confirm my role as Test Driver for the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team in the 2018 season," Calderon was quoted as saying on the team’s official site. "This collaboration will build upon the experience that I have gained as Development Driver with the team over the past year, and I look forward to continuing on this positive path together."

Calderon’s appointment, meanwhile, has come at a point when female drivers’ capability to compete in F1 was questioned by former Lotus and Renault F1 development driver Carmen Jorda. The Spanish motor racer, who is a member of FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission, said women should focus of events like Formula E and Formula GT as they do not possess the physical power required to compete in F1.

"It's [Formula E] a less physical car than in Formula One because of the downforce and because of the power steering as well," Jorda was quoted as saying on CNN International. "So yes for sure. The challenge that we women have in Formula Two and Formula One is a physical issue and I think in Formula E, we won't have it."

The Colombian was dragged straight into the controversy and had to defend women’s presence at the highest level of motorsport. The last female driver to drive a competitive race in F1 was Lella Lombardi in 1976.

“I don’t think there is a physical barrier,” Calderon told Spanish Media, as quoted by AP News. “Obviously women and men are different and we have a little less muscle mass, but I can make up for that with training.”

The 24-year-old newly appointed Sauber Test Driver was not the only one to react to Jorda’s comments as there was an uproar from a number of female drivers including those who have driven F1 cars in the past.

Former Sauber affiliate driver De Silvestro, former NASCAR driver and Indy Car winner Danica Patrick and Le Mans winner Leena Gade were among the drivers that reacted strongly to Jorda’s comments. They were also supported by the 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button, who believes Patrick is as strong as any driver currently on the grid.