Sauber affiliate driver Simona de Silvestro believes that she is ready to make the step up to Formula 1 in 2015 after some impressive test running with the Swiss team over the past few months.
The former IndyCar racer turned her back on the American racing scene at the end of last season to try to secure a drive in F1. Sauber took her on as an affiliate driver to help with testing in a 2011-spec car, and she is one of six drivers that is vying for a seat at Hinwil in 2015.
Despite the stiff competition, she does fancy her chances, telling F1 Racing magazine that now is the right time to make the move up.
“If I do everything right, there’s a good chance,” she said when asked about her hopes of a seat in 2015.
“I feel that now is the time, 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.”
During her tests, de Silvestro impressed many with her pace and her attitude. However, fellow Sauber tester and rival for a seat Sergey Sirotkin dismissed her as a “marketing ploy”, and although she acknowledged that she will get judged differently because she is a woman, de Silvesto is confident of doing a great job.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
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.