Swiss racing driver Simona de Silvestro has been recruited by Formula One team Sauber as an affiliated driver. The new role is described as a preparation program aimed at achieving a super license and possible race seat at the Swiss team by as early as the 2015 season.
de Silvestro, 25, will be involved with track and simulator testing, and take part in courses for mental and physical preparation for the tough conditions of F1. She of course has plenty of experience in open-wheel racing, having competed in IndyCar for the past four years.
In a statement, de Silvestro said that racing in F1 was a life-long dream for her and that she had great respect for the Sauber team, whose team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn, was the first woman to lead an F1 squad.
“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. “I’m thrilled to have this extremely unique platform on which to prepare myself to take on the challenge.”
de Silvestro won’t be the first woman to hop behind the wheel of an F1 car. The first female driver in motorsport’s top league was Maria Teresa De Filippis, who competed in the 1958 and 1959 seasons. More recently, Scotland’s Susie Wolff served as a development driver for Williams and the late María de Villota was a test driver for Marussia when she suffered the horrific accident that ultimately took her life. At present, Sauber has chosen Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutiérrez as drivers for the 2014 season, with Giedo van der Garde serving as reserve driver.