IndyCar: Simona De Silvestro closes on race seat for St. Pete

The 26-year-old native of Switzerland completed four seasons in IndyCar before turning her attention to Europe in 2014 where she underwent training and testing for a Formula 1 berth that fell through before it could be realized. De Silvestro parted ways with her longtime manager Imran Safiulla after the F1 plans were tabled, and it’s believed she sought guidance from Andretti executive John Lopes to explore new opportunities in IndyCar, and to secure the funding necessary to land a top drive.
Simona de Silvestra
Simona de Silvestra

Team owner Michael Andretti recently confirmed his interest in running five cars in 2015, and with vacancies in the fourth and fifth entries, de Silvestro was among the candidates to share time in the fifth car. It’s also believed recent sponsorship complications with the fourth car—one that was targeted for IndyCar race winner Justin Wilson—has moved de Silvestro into the fourth seat for the first five races.

As one of IndyCar’s most popular drivers, de Silvestro drew interest from fans and sponsors throughout her four-year stint in the series. The chance to start with a limited program at Andretti could blossom into something bigger, based on recent history.

2012 IndyCar champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay moved to the Andretti team in 2010 with enough sponsorship for a handful of races, and turned it into a full-time ride after finding success on the track and with new sponsors who came onboard to support the program throughout the year. ​

A formal announcement regarding de Silvestro’s plans could come within the next week.