Simona de Silvestro will return to IndyCar later this year to make her sixth Indianapolis 500 start, this time with a female-led team created with Team Penske’s support.
De Silvestro was a full-time IndyCar driver between 2010 and 2013. Between those years her best championship result was 13th, with a second in Houston in 2013 her best race effort.
In 2015, De Silvestro competed in her last Indy 500 – finishing 19th with Andretti Autosports.
Following that race, she then turned to Australia. She spent the next five years involved as a driver in the Supercars Championship.
First with Prodrive and later Nissan Motorsport/Kelly Racing, the last three seasons of her time in Australia saw the Swiss driver promoted to a full-time role.
Her return to the Indy 500 will be with the new Paretta Autosport team. The project is part of IndyCar’s ‘Race for Equality & Change’ programme to improve the diversity in its field.
“The team will integrate women to ensure that it provides opportunities, including competition, operations and administrative roles such as logistics, marketing and public relations,” said team principal Beth Paretta.
“Today is the beginning of a commitment to gender equity in sport, to encourage women to work hard so they can earn their seat at the table or spot on the grid.
“IndyCar has been a leader and a welcoming place for women for many years because of the hard work of many women and men before us, but now we have a stronger commitment with IndyCar’s ‘Race for Equality & Change’ to make sure opportunities continue in the future.”
Parretta had previously failed to launch a female-led IndyCar team for the 2016 Indy 500 with Katherine Legge as the driver.
However, this time bolstered by the support of Penske, this year marks the best opportunity for the team to strive and give De Silvestro a competitive shot at winning the Indy 500.
De Silvestro’s most recent single-seater experience is in Formula E, where she remains a reserve and development drive for Porsche.
“My career really took off through my time competing in IndyCar and the Indy 500, so returning to compete with Beth and her new team in alliance with Team Penske is a special and rare chance in my career,” De Silvestro said.
“Being part of the goal of diversity and inclusion for everyone, and especially women in IndyCar, and in motorsports in general, is very important to me and how I would like to see the future of racing.”