New factory Ferrari driver James Calado looks ahead to his first season of sportscar racing in the World Endurance Championship and reflects on the frustration of missing out on an expensive F1 seat.

Q:
For 2014 you've joined the Ferrari factory team in the World Endurance Championship, making you the first British driver since Eddie Irvine to have a full factory drive with the manufacturer - that's quite the privilege...

James Calado:
I think of that and it makes me smile. Ferrari is very prestigious, passionate and Italian, so it's a good feeling. From the experience I have with them already, they are a fantastic and professional team, with so much passion for winning, which suits me down to the ground. I can't wait to get racing because it has been such a long time.

Q:
How have you found the Ferrari 458 Italia?

James Calado:
Different! Jumping from GP2 and Formula 1 to this... I first drove it and thought it was awful, but I got over that, did some more test days and it started to feel good. It's a good car, it's well balanced and it handles well. It has taken a lot of time to get used to the brakes and the lack of downforce, but I am 100 per cent ready.

Q:
How much have you had to change your approach to driving having gone from single-seaters to sportscars?

James Calado:
I tested a DTM last year and even that was completely different. But this has little downforce, which is hardest thing to get used to, as it braking around the high-speed corners. I have been in the kitty litter a few times, but it is all part of the learning process. Like I say though, I am ready now.

Q:
How did you deal with AF Corse come about?

James Calado:
My manager is Nicholas Todt and he has good connections to Ferrari, so thanks to him for getting me in contact with the Ferrari world, so to speak. I had to work for it though. There was a shoot-out between myself, Sam Bird and Jerome d'Ambrosio. Jerome was ruled out straight away, so it was then between myself and Sam, and I won.

Q:
Was there some satisfaction in beating an ex-F1 driver and someone who finished ahead of you in GP2 last season?

James Calado:
I was at a disadvantage last year with a car that really wasn't working with the tyres. It is good to see ART back at the front, but they have pretty much gone back to the old constructions. I was very unlucky last year but when you are put in an equal car with the person that won the most races and scored the most pole positions, for me to beat him just goes to show

Q:
You were tipped as a title contender last season, but finished third - are you disappointed with how your season panned out?

James Calado:
Totally. I finished third and yet I was eight tenths to a second off the pace. In my first year I had two wins and was always at the front, but last year I was nowhere near. I just couldn't get the car to work on the construction of tyre, it was awful.

Q:
Were you tempted to stay for a third season of GP2?

James Calado:
No, I didn't want to do it. I wanted to be somewhere where I am in a winning team, around professional people and not paying a ridiculous amount of money to do what you love to do, so the perfect place for me is to be at Ferrari, as a professional racing driver with a championship winning car. It attracts me more than ?20 million to do a year in Formula 1.

Q:
What is your feeling about the current state of Formula 1 with regards to pay-drivers?

James Calado:
I always say you can see why they do it - they need the money. They can gain more time from developing a car than from a driver. A new front-wing will gain more tenths than someone braking a little bit later. There have always been pay drivers, but especially now it seems to have gotten too much. Too much money to be in F1 and too many people paying to be in F1. It just doesn't make it very attractive and it's very tough for young drivers coming through.

Q:
How do you feel when you see former team-mates like Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas - drivers you could beat - performing in F1?

James Calado:
It is frustrating. Don't get me wrong, they are very talented drivers, but they have the money to do it.

Q:
Will you still consider a move back into single-seaters and F1?

James Calado:
I wouldn't rule it out. There were F1 opportunities last year and there may be this year, but if it involves a ridiculous amount of money, it's a no go. Where do you find that money inn these current times if you don't already have a wealthy background?
Q:
Looking ahead to your first full season of sportscar racing, what are you aims and expectations?

James Calado:
Davide Rigon is my team-mate, with (Gianmaria) Bruni and (Toni) Vilander) in the other car, so if I can be on a par with them, it will be an achievement in itself. Gimmi is incredibly quick and has a unique driving style that suits the car well. We need to do the best we can, learn as much as possible and gain experience, then see where we come out at the end of it. I am sure we can win races and be on the podium, but we have got to concentrate on scoring in every race and keeping out of trouble. Hopefully this will be a long-term thing, so I don't want to blow it all straight away!

Q:
The deal also includes your debut outing in the Le Mans 24 Hours...

James Calado:
I am really looking forward to it. It may depend on the balance of the performance situation, but I have never raced so I don't know what to expect. Porsche will be tough to beat, but Ferrari are world champions so it gives me confidence heading into the season.

 

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