After De Silvestro joins Sauber, but will she get to race alongside Vettel and Hamilton?
The long wait for Formula One’s next female driver could be nearing an end after Swiss team Sauber announced they have signed up home-grown Simona De Silvestro in the hope she could be behind the wheel of a Grand Prix car by 2015.
The 25-year-old – who will initially be involved in a preparation programme involving physical training, simulator work and on-track mileage as she strives to obtain the necessary FIA super-licence required to drive a Formula One car – has genuine single-seater racing pedigree.
After leaving Switzerland for the United States in 2006, the 25-year -old competed in Formula BMW USA and then the Atlantic Championship. Since 2010 De Silvestro has taken part in the IndyCar Series, winning the Indy 500 ‘Rookie of the Year’ award in her debut campaign.
Indy girl: De Silvestro was a driver for KV Racing at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas, last year
Last year, in the first of two races at the Grand Prix of Houston, De Silvestro became the first woman in IndyCar history to claim a podium finish at a street circuit when she was runner-up behind last year’s champion Scott Dixon.
Sauber’s female team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn, outlined her genuine beilef that, in time, De Silvestro can make the breakthrough into the male dominated world of Formula One racing.
Track testing: De Silvestro will complete simulator training and mental and physical preparation to gain her super licence
‘After four years in IndyCar, Simona’s ambition is to enter Formula One in 2015,’ said Kaltenborn. ‘We regard her as a very talented race driver, and we therefore have decided to take her on board as an ‘affiliated driver’ and support her on her way to the pinnacle of motorsport.’
Delighted at being the chance to realise a life-long ambition, De Silvestro said: ‘I’m so happy to have the opportunity to take this step with such a great team.
Sauber is a team with a legacy, and the only Swiss team in Formula One, which I think makes this even more exciting.
‘I can’t thank Monisha and (team owner) Peter Sauber enough for their support and belief in my abilities and for giving me this chance. I’m thrilled to have this extremely unique platform on which to prepare myself to take on the challenge.’
Only two women have previously started a grand prix, Italians Maria Teresa de Filipis and Lella Lombardi, the latter back in 1976.
Currently Susie Wolff, development driver for Williams, is the only female driver with any sort of driving role in Formula One.
Maria de Villota was a test driver for Marussia prior to a serious accident in 2012. The long term effects of the crash are believed to have contributed to the Spaniard’s death in October last year.
Tragedy: Marussia test driver Maria de Villota lost her life after compilations which arose from a crash (below)