Ferrari’s title fight with Porsche continues this weekend in Shanghai, with James Calado hoping to deliver his first class win for the Prancing Horse in the crucial championship-deciding stage of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
The 26-year-old Englishman and AF Corse co-driver Davide Rigon head into Sunday’s penultimate round of the season with a 7-point deficit to GTE-Pro championship leader Richard Lietz.
The same can’t be said in the battle for the World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers, however, with Ferrari holding a 13-point advantage over Porsche.
“I think as a driver, the mentality is that you can only take each race as it comes,” Calado said. “Whatever the outcome is at the end is what it is.
“You can see it’s a very close fight between Porsche and Ferrari at the moment in GT. It’s very nice to see and very good for the championship.
“Porsche has improved a lot this year, in general, and are pushing us really hard. We’ll have to see this weekend.”
Calado and Rigon’s teammates, Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander, broke a two-race win streak for Porsche Team Manthey in Fuji, taking their No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia to their first class win since the season-opener at Silverstone.
Despite the Fuji race featuring mixed conditions, and rain again forecast for tomorrow, Calado is hoping for a dry race to help their title fight.
”We know Porsche is really quick in the rain,” he said. “They were fast in Fuji and they were fast at Petit Le Mans.
“Ideally, our preference is dry weather but we’ve got to maximize both conditions and see where we are at the end of it.
“I think we’re in good shape this weekend. We’ve done a few things to improve the strategy, improve pit stops, just little things to maximize everything we can to try and improve performance.
“It’s very close. Ferrari’s main goal is to win the manufacturers’ championship more than anything.”
While not yet standing on the top step of the podium, Calado and Rigon have been the measure of consistency this year, having scored five podiums in six races.
“We had four podiums in a row at the end of last year and we’ve continued that streak this year,” Calado said.
“I think the next thing, as a driver’s point of view, is to get the first win. We’ve been unlucky a few times but we’re there. The speed is there, we just need a little bit of luck.”
The former GP2 standout, who made the transition to sports car racing last year, feels he’s turned a corner in his GT racing career, following a challenging rookie season with the Italian squad.
Calado admitted his heavy crash in qualifying at Le Mans led to setbacks once he returned to the wheel after missing the 24-hour race, but has bounced back and sees a bright future in his sports car racing career.
“For sure up until Le Mans it was very tricky,” Calado said. “Having the big crash at Le Mans really affected my performance because it took a long time to get my confidence back.
“But I’m really happy in GT racing. It’s very competitive and very professional. There’s top drivers in this championship and I also like the way this championship is run compared to what I’ve previously done.
“I prefer what I’m doing now by a long way. I hope I can stay within the GT environment for a long time because I feel like this is what I should be doing. I feel really at home with Ferrari.
“I just hope we can continue our success. Last year [Ferrari] won. I just hope this year, especially in the last year the Ferrari 458 for us, we hope we can get a good result at the end.”