'Now is the time' for F1 drive - De Silvestro
Simona de Silvestro insists she feels fully prepared to end the wait for a female Formula One driver as early as next season should the opportunity present itself.
Silvestro tested in a two-year old Sauber at Fiorano in April, the first step in what she hopes will be a journey to an F1 seat. Though Giovanna Amati took part in three qualifying sessions in 1992, the last woman to start an F1 race was Lella Lombardi at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix. Silvestro's Fiorano test prompted speculation a 2015 seat was on the cards and the Swiss driver is sure she can make the step up.
"I feel that now is the time," Silvestro told F1 Racing magazine. "I wouldn't have made this jump if it didn't feel right or it wasn't a good opportunity. That's why it felt normal to go to Fiorano, I didn't feel super crazy nervous.
"For me, it's been really important to focus on the racing part, because at the end of the day that's what people are going to judge you on, whether you're a boy or a girl. The most important thing is that when we put on our helmets, we are all the same. We are racing drivers and we try to do the best job that we can in a race car. That's always been my aim."
Silvestro turned her back on a promising Indycar career for her F1 opportunity, after becoming the first woman to secure a road course podium in the history of the series with second at Houston in 2013. In her debut Indycar season she emulated Nigel Mansell, Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya when she was named Rookie of the Year at the 2010 Indy 500.
Mario Andretti, the 1978 F1 world champion, was a keen admirer of Silvestro in Indycar and has given his backing to her bid for an F1 seat.
"I've been following her closely since [her first Indycar test]," Andretti told F1 Racing. "Once you have that helmet on, gender makes no difference. Passion and desire drive you and, with that, no obstacle is insurmountable. If you want to accomplish something, you're going to find a way and silence the critics with your performance. I wish her well because she's definitely a talent to be reckoned with."
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