IndyCar driver Simona De Silvestro is headed to Formula 1- and, this time, a woman will be on the F1 grid on merit. That’s the message she’s sending the F1 establishment, at least, and she’s backed it up with a strong 2 day “acclimation session” in a Sauber Ferrari C31 race car equipped with Ferrari’s state-of-the-art KERS hybrid system. Her push for a Formula 1 seat is backed by true “Simona” believers and green-energy giants like New Orleans-based Entergy and Areva, a French multinational and the world’s largest nuclear company.
Women in racing have always been treated as something of a novelty act and, in most cases, need to be twice as good as their male counterparts to be considered half as talented. That’s why you hear people say that Susie Wolff is only an F1 test driver because her husband, Toto Wolff, runs the (currently dominant) Mercedes F1 team or that Danica Patrick is more of a fashion model than a racing driver. Simona De Silvestro, though, is something different. She’s a bada**.
That’s not to say De Silvestro isn’t every bit as nice to look at as Danica Patrick or the Delta Wing driving Katherine Legge, of course.
Instead, that’s meant to say that, when you think of Simona, the first thing that probably comes to mind are the horrific burns that she suffered in IndyCar crashes at Texas Motor Speedway in 2010 and Indy in 2011. That 2010 accident cost her Rookie of the Year honors, but established her as the real deal when she came back strong in 2011 and 2012- and her strong form continues today. “We continued today where we left off yesterday with the acclimatization program for Simona,” says Paul Russell from Sauber Engineering. “Overnight, she had the time to reflect on a lot of things and was able to adapt her driving accordingly. She learned the track well yesterday, so we had the opportunity to get some set-up work done today. Simona drove very well, had a good pace and was consistent. Overall these were two very positive days.”
De Silvestro’s next test session in the Sauber C31 will take place from 25th June to 27th June in Valencia, Spain. If all goes well, expect her to replace either the under-performing Adrian Sutil in races or Giedo Van Der Garde as Sauber’s reserve driver as early as next season.