Swiss racer, Simona de Silvestro, will make history next year when she lines up on the Supercar grid as a full-time racer. De Silvestro will become the first full-time female racer in the series in its current iteration that started back in 1997.
De Silvestro has signed a three-year agreement to race in the category full-time, although is yet to disclose which team she will be racing for. An announcement is expected after next month’s Bathurst 1000, which she is contesting with Renee Gracie in a Nissan Altima.
De Silvestro brings a wealth of experience to the category, having raced in Indy Cars and, most recently, the FIA’s all-electric Formula E series. She is one of only three women (Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher are the others) to have finished on the podium in the IndyCar Series.
De Silvestro, 28, who originally hails from Thun in Switzerland, said the competitive nature of the Supercar series was an attraction for her.
“After the race I did last year at Bathurst, I really enjoyed the category,” said de Silvestro. “The cars are quite fast. And the competitiveness of the series was also something that really appealed to me.”
And while Aussie race fans will have to get used to seeing a full-time woman racer on the grid, de Silvestro herself has no qualms about filling that role.
“Being the only full-time female on the grid is not something new to me,” she stated. “Every race series I’ve been in, most of the time, I’ve been the only female.
“For sure, I think in Australia it hasn’t happened, especially in Supercars. So it’s exciting that I’m going to be that person. Hopefully I’m going to have good results and show that I can drive and that I can be competitive.”
Supercars CEO James Warburton said the addition of de Silvestro to the field was just the first step in the series’ ambitions to foster gender diversity.
“In Simona we have a fiercely competitive, serious racer and an absolute world-class driver,” said Warburton.
“It actually marries with the ambitions and the obligations of the sport to open up pathways for female participation and, clearly, in the case of Simona and her personality type, we are going to get an entirely new generation of fans.”
De Silvestro made her Supercars debut at last year’s Bathurst 1000, sharing a Ford Falcon with Gracie. The pair finished 21st after lengthy delays to fix the car, following Gracie’s contact with the wall after she slid on an oil slick.
De Silvestro first came to notice in 2009 when she finished third outright in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, winning four races and finishing on the podium a further four times to cement her reputation as a hardened open-wheel racer. That predicated a jump into the IndyCar Series where she proved a consistent and competitive racer. Her best result came at Houston in 2013, second behind multiple IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.