May 26, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; IndyCar Series driver Simona De Silvestro (left) before the 2013 Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Simona de Silvestro
Upside: After spending a year training for F1 with Sauber, de Silvestro comes back to the United States with high-end fitness and without her controversial manager. Her first stint in IndyCar ended with momentum: ninth at Sonoma, fifth at Baltimore, second in Houston’s first race, and tenth in the final Houston round. An eighth place in Fontana stemmed from heavy attrition; de Silvestro was three laps down.
Questions: That’s where much of the concern with de Silvestro lies: oval races like that, where the aggressive racer who stunned at venues like St. Petersburg and Baltimore instead dawdled. While ovals make up only a small part of IndyCar’s schedule, its biggest race – one that, with qualifying points included, effectively counts thrice toward the championship – has no right turns.
There’s also the payment issue. Despite the new management, teams may be reluctant to work with de Silvestro, who is being sued (along with her father) by KV Racing for non-payment. Last year, her Sauber program ended abruptly over funding, though the team praised her work.
Verdict: Reports have de Silvestro as a leading candidate at Schmidt Peterson or in a part-time role with Andretti. She should be on the grid somewhere.