Simona de Silvestro finished sixth Sunday in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, a result that left her, her team and throngs of supporters disappointed.
That’s a good omen for a driver who a year ago could have only dreamed of such a result, enduring through 15 races with the woefully underpowered Lotus powerplant.
De Silvestro, the 24-year-old Swiss driver who’s shifted to KV Racing Technology and now has a Chevrolet engine, ran in the top five all race and was on course for her first series podium finish in the last 20 laps.
Unfortunately, her tires faded toward the end of the race, and she was unable to hold off a train of cars behind her. She dropped to sixth at the flag, behind Marco Andretti and KVRT teammate Tony Kanaan, and was caught in the middle of a three-wide photo finish behind Scott Dixon and ahead of EJ Viso.
“It’s been a good weekend for us,” de Silvestro said. “Unfortunately we lost a few positions at the end there. We kind of ran out of tires at the end. I think we can be pretty happy with sixth. Now we know what we have to work on for the next race. It was really cool to be up front all day with Will, Hinch and everybody; it was awesome.”
Small consolation is that the top 10 finish was her first since a 10th place in Toronto in 2011, and second best result of her IndyCar career.
De Silvestro finished ninth at Barber, the next round of the championship, in 2011.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.