Young British driver James Calado gets F1 debut

James Calado

A young British driver has made his Formula 1 debut in a practice session for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

James Calado, 24, was fifth in GP2 last year and now has a chance to make an impression in F1 after getting a place in the Force India reserve team.

As third driver, he will take part in Friday practice sessions for the rest of this season.

But the racer, from Cropthorne in Worcestershire, is unique on the grid.

His career has been funded by the non-profit Racing Steps Foundation which develops young British motorsport talent.

"Formula 1 is very political and money orientated," he said.

"I'm from a normal background. Even if I was to give up what I'm doing now I couldn't afford to do karting at my local track.

"So it goes to show, I've got this far already."

But that is exactly how his racing career started out. At the local track.

At the age of four he took up quad biking, an interest that quickly grew into karting.

After numerous wins at his local club's championship he was invited to join the highly-rated Zip Young Guns team.

In 2007, his ambitions moved from karts to cars with the help of the Racing Steps Foundation.

He then won the RSF Formula Renault UK seat for 2008.

James Calado

In his rookie year he finished runner up in the Graduate Cup before moving on to win the Formula Renault UK and Portugal Winter Cups.

Fast forward to 2012 and he stepped up to GP2, the premier F1 feeder series, missing out on third place in the championship after picking up a mystery bug at the final round in Singapore.

In 2013, he returns to the series with ART Grand Prix for a second shot at the title.

Ahead of this weekend's practice session, James is enthusiastic about his debut. "The only way for me to stand a chance for a race seat is to work with the team as a hard as possible and just impress really."

He described himself as "physically and mentally ready" for the challenge.

He added: "It's kind of a dream come true for me. I'm feeling fantastic and amazing.

"It's honestly a really big thing for me to get out in GP2 and Formula 1."

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