Simona De Silvestro: Sauber sign female IndyCar driver

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Simona De Silvestro

Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro has joined Sauber with the aim of racing in Formula 1 in 2015.

The 25-year-old becomes the second female associated with an F1 team following Scot Susie Wolff's role as development driver at Williams.

De Silvestro has raced in the US since 2006 and in IndyCars since 2009.

Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn said: "We regard her as a very talented driver so we decided to support her on her way to the pinnacle of motorsport."

De Silvestro, who has been named an 'affiliated driver' at the Swiss team, said: "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."

To qualify for the 'superlicence' required to race in F1, De Silvestro will have to complete 300km of testing in an F1 car, although there are provisions to waive that if governing body the FIA considers a driver has proven their capabilities in a suitable category.

IndyCar racing is the top echelon of single-seater racing in the United States. De Silvestro won the 'rookie of the year' award at the blue riband Indianapolis 500 in 2010 and was second in Houston last year.

Sauber said last summer they intended to promote Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin to an F1 race seat this season.

That plan did not materialise because it became clear Sirotkin was not yet ready for F1. The team's race drivers this year are German Adrian Sutil and Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, with Sirotkin as reserve driver.