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Sauber sign IndyCar racer Simona de Silvestro as ‘affiliated driver’
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  14 Feb 2014   |  1:36 pm GMT  |  134 comments

Sauber have signed female IndyCar racer Simona de Silvestro to a role it has dubbed ‘affiliated driver’.

The 25-year-old Swiss driver has been racing in the US since the age of 18, initially competing in Formula BMW and then the Atlantic Championship before graduating to IndyCar, where she has raced for the past four years. Last year, she scored a podium finish with second place in the first race of a double-header in Houston, Texas.

She was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 2010, and placed 13th last season racing for KV Racing Technology.

She now joins Sauber for a ‘preparation programme’, which will see her involved in track testing and simulator training, all aimed at obtaining a superlicence and progressing to the 2015 grid.

“This is a major step towards me achieving a life-long dream and I’m so happy to have the opportunity to take this step with such a great team,” De Silvestro said.

“The Sauber F1 Team is a team with a legacy and the only Swiss team in Formula One, which I think makes this even more exciting.”

Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn added: “After four years in IndyCar, Simona’s ambition is to enter Formula one in 2015. We regard her as a very talented race driver, and we, therefore, decided to take her on board as an ‘affiliated driver’ and support her on her way to the pinnacle of motorsport.”

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It’s great to see Sauber sign her.


I think we should all drop the gender issue, and concentrate on the real problem. She’s Swiss, and we all know that they smell like cheese. Example – Roger Federer.


Whereas your comment has it’s own particular odour 😉


Yes, it’s called ‘tongue-in-cheek’. It never fails to surprise me that some people still don’t recognize the scent.


Just as it never fails to surprise me that some people still don’t recognize a 😉



I think people are making too big a deal out of her not winning a race in Indy. Just look at Sebastian Boudrias he won Champ car championships, and was poor in F1.

Or look at Scott Speed. He was so bad he dropped mid-season.

Mike from Colombia

i.e., so if they won and then flopped in F1, what chance does she have?


Without a doubt having a female driver will attract a female audience and more male viewers, just look how popular Ashley Force became in her short FC career!


Hopefully she’ll get a fair crack at F1 because I know that everyone who’s ever worked with her have been full of praise for how good she is.

I think back to 2011, She had a car failure during practice at Indy which resulted in a big crash & wrote off the teams brand new chassis. For the rest of that year she was left with an old Dallara chassis from 2003 which was significantly overweight compared to the newer cars yet she pulled out some simply brilliant drives with it & got praise from just about everyone in the Indycar paddock.

Put Simona in an F1 car, Give her a proper chance to show what she can do (Not just publicity demo drives) & I believe she’d impress enough to get people seriously talking about a race seat in the future.

Then again Katherine Legge impressed the Minardi team when she had a test with them at the end of 2005 & despite all the praise she got from those who were there she was never given another go.


According to several online sources, de Silvestro weighs 68kg. That places her right in the middle of F1 driver weights.

Kobayashi is lightest at 57kg, and Sutil is heaviest at 75kg, according to ESPN F1.

Mike from Colombia

The girl likes her food then?


Who knows, someday there might even be a female commentator on this website!


Anne for one?

I’ve seen her to comment fairly regularly.


By which I mean commentor.


It doesn’t look as if she brings much/any sponsorship with her. I raise the point because

a team that had to go the money’d driver route in 2013 surely couldn’t afford to expend a single shred of their resources on any form of affiliation that wasn’t going to produce a tangible cash benefit? I really hope that this isn’t a PR gambit as Simona looks to be a capable racer. Good luck Simona, good luck Sauber!


But surely this is a way for her to gain sponsorship? If its out there that she wants to be the first female racer in a long time (and she brings some credibility that say Susie Wolff doesn’t in that she raced in another open wheel series and proved herself), surely there’s going to be some companies support her?

She did have a lot of sponsorship in America, but her main sponsor I think pulled out after the Baltimore Indycar race was cancelled as that was a big market for them. Plus, having sponsorship in the US and for F1 are completely different – what works for one market doesn’t necessarily work for the other.


A year goes fast.

She has just the one to progress to, and get that superlicence.

I did wonder last night if the new weight requirements would lead teams to look out for possibly lighter female candidates, as well as smaller-sized male juniors.


I’m still gunning for jockeys and midgets.

Bring on the booster seats 🙂


Imagine those post-race interviews in Jockey’s voices…


EJ or DC would need a Helium filled balloon in his hand to use just before he asks a question, just to not sound out of place…


Finally a post race interview worth watching 🙂


It’s irrelevant she’s a woman, who cares? From the very limited info in this article, she doesn’t have many good results. Speed is the only thing that matters unless she is buying her drive like some current drivers do, in which case maybe it will be a great marketing success for whatever team she drives for. But without talent, no one lasts too long in this sport. And based only on the photo , she doesn’t look like the smallest framed driver and, like all drivers, she will struggle to get a real drive if she’s over 70kg with the rules at the moment.


If you don’t care why are you commenting?


I have to disagree – if she wasn’t a woman we wouldn’t have heard about the ‘signing’. Being female opens up a lot of doors in Motorsport. Speed isn’t the only thing that matters – ask the Marussia F1 team for example. Teams need cash now like never before. As for money taking precedence over talent and keeping good poorer drivers away, I’d help matters by making a driver’s Superlicence valid for say 5 or 7 years. Then we could see more drivers in F1.


This looks like a good move.

Wins and podiums in other categories makes her one of the stronger candidates for her gender.

Plus, a Swiss team supporting a Swiss driver.


I really hope that if Simona makes it to F1 that she has great success but I have to question whether there are more worthy drivers to get this opportunity.

I understand that her career has been good, but Sebastien Bourdais came with a fantastic pedigree from CART and didn’t have great success.

Having said that de Silvestro did have a strong test in a GP2 car a while ago, I understand, so who knows


The point here is that she’s basically taking a year out to test. There’s no way that Ryan Hunter-Reay as a Indycar champion would do that – he’d expect a race seat straight away. Simona’s had decent results but not good enough to expect a seat in 2014.


still no one has provided an explanation for an ‘affiliated driver’. what exactly does that mean in real terms?


It basically means she is getting some F1 experience despite not having the FIA Super Licence that grants her the ability to drive in FIA snactioned F1 events (testing and/or races). So it will be limited to those young driver days and to the simulator but allows her to get into the F1 environment to understand the culture and ways that the whole circus operates.


Sounds like photo op’s and maybe a bit of straight-line testing now and then.


It means that you arrive at an F1 team with substantial money behind you and then about twelve months latter you leave that team as clean as the day you where born.


‘a filleted driver’, not ‘affiliated’ haha thanks for that.


Will miss her in Indycar, but the right move as she hasn’t seemed comfortable on ovals since her big crash at Indianapolis in 2011.

I hope it works out for her, and if companies were smart, they’d get behind her as this could get huge. If any woman is going to race in F1, it’d be Simona. She’s proved herself in the junior categories, she got results in Indycar well beyond the capabilities of her car, and she hasn’t used her looks or connections to get to where she is.


What happened to the deal with russian investment??


A better question would be what happened to the Russian investment?

Find the answer to that and you will answer your question 😉


$50 Billion show pony in Sochi, Putin has leaned on Everybody to pay for it…


Very cool….a more skilled and quicker driver then Danica Patrick.


Not that that’s setting the bar very high.


But it is a good thing


She’s no Danica, and that’s a good thing for F1.


Indycar has many better than drivers than her, but she is Swiss and a woman.


Remarkable observation.


…His/her reading skills really are astonishing…


As the cars get easier to drive is this the next step in small lightweight drivers that enable the car to be more easily balanced with moveable ballast?

Just a thought…

Mike from Colombia

“Affiliated Driver” ? Swiss-English?

What exactly does this mean?


It just means she is in some way ‘officially’ connected to the organisation that is Sauber F1. Given she has not got a stated specific public role in the upcoming months means she’ll be doing sim work and probably adhoc publicity for some on-track role for 2015. Given there’s a possibility of 1 or 2 more teams on the grid next year, hiring out a driver might be profitable for Sauber, and she can get on-track experience like the other back of the pack driver have had access to – she just needs to not be a mobile chicane while doing the learning year(s), and she should progress up in time …


I guess we’ll see how far this goes… but I hope she does well!


I’m very sceptical about a woman’s chances of doing well in F1, but that’s not the point. Simona isn’t being announced as a driver for the 2014 F1 series. Just having a female driver in the sport can only be a good thing. If such a move attracted good sponsorship money, perhaps it could save a team from going under.


Very good point, however I would say most of Sauber’s fiscal problems that can be directed at the door of FOM and CVC and the unequal prize money distribution system in F1 at the minute. In other words, Mr E………..


What ever happened to that 12 year old looking Russian kid they where going to put in the car this year. Did the money not come in ??? All gone very quiet on that front…


He’s doing another year of Renault 3.5. I think most would agree it was far too early for him to make the step up.


That, and he could not get a super licence.


I have a question for all posters criticizing this as a marketing move, have any of you actually watched an Indycar race? Simona is a hell of a driver that has been stuck with lousy teams for her 4 years, including a wasted 2012 stuck with the boat anchor Lotus engine. She is one of the most talented female drivers of her generation and has the talent to race F1 and do well in F1. I met her at the Indy Toronto last year, she is not only a great racer but will be a great ambassador for Sauber


“Simona is a hell of a driver that has been stuck with lousy teams for her 4 years”

Sound to me like she might be the Hulkenberg of Indycars

And now she’s affiliated with Sauber – a team to be respected but not one of the front runners.

Holy crap, I just realised i can resize this textbox!

This will keep me amused for hours 😀


It’s a marketing move, as you implicitly admit yourself with “She is one of the most talented FEMALE drivers of her generation”.

If it wasn’t a marketing move you’d have been able to simply say “She is one of the most talented drivers of her generation”.


On the issue of girls competing in motor sport, Ginetta has a racing series for 14-17 years and plenty of girls have competed in that, which is great. Susie Wolff and Vanina Ickx (Jacky’s daughter) also have cut their teeth in touring cars, and Vanina has competed at Le Mans. Michele Mouton also had a successful rallying career. There’s plenty of motor sport categories such as sports car racing, touring cars (British and DTM) and rallying for girls to have a successful career behind the wheel.

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