De Silvestro boosted by belief shown by Andretti ahead of Formula E debut

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LONDON – The last 18 months have been rather turbulent for Simona de Silvestro. After walking away from IndyCar at the end of the 2013 season to pursue a drive in Formula 1 with Sauber, the Swiss driver found herself back at square one when her financial support fell through.

However, the recent months have seen de Silvestro’s fortunes turn around as she has joined the Andretti Autosport family, taking part in three races of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season including the Indianapolis 500.

This weekend brings a great change of scenery for the 26-year-old, though, as she prepares to make her debut in the FIA Formula E series at the championship’s season finale.

“I think it’ll be fun,” de Silvestro told MotorSportsTalk. “It’s definitely way different to anything I’ve done before.

“Having two races is kind of nice because I think after Saturday we’ll know what it’s going to be like and have learned a lot. The track looks fun and I’m really looking forward to it.”

The street circuit erected around Battersea Park in the heart of London has imposing walls and narrow sections, and could catch a number of drivers out across the course of the weekend.

However, de Silvestro hopes that her street course experience from IndyCar will come in handy this weekend as she gets to grips with the electric-powered cars.

“IndyCar is mostly street courses,” she said. “I think when you’re used it a little bit more it can help you. The biggest thing to be fast is really understanding the race car.

“And I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge for me compared to the other people because everybody has driven at least once this year. Just learning how to drive the car and how everything is. I think that’s going to be the most difficult part of the weekend.”

De Silvestro is one of five rookie drivers racing in Formula E this weekend, after being given the nod by Andretti just two weeks ago as part of her ongoing role with the team.

She explained how the team’s confidence in her has been a big boost, and that the security offered is something that racing drivers crave.

“I was really lucky to be part of the Andretti family, having done the three races with Michael in IndyCar, and then got the call pretty much two weeks ago asking if I wanted to do this race,” de Silvestro said.

“I think it’s great when you’re in a team like Andretti. They really believe in their drivers and really try to help them, and I think that’s really special from a team point of view.

“It’s really difficult in racing to just be somewhere kind of steady, and so far Andretti has been able to do this for me, so it’s a really special feeling.”

Looking ahead, de Silvestro admitted that she is unsure when she will be next racing, but that she is open to any opportunities that may come her way in either IndyCar or Formula E.

“I don’t know yet, I think things are open,” she said when asked by MST about future opportunities. “That’s the thing, there’s always something that can open up, and you just have to be ready for it, like this weekend.

“For sure, I really want to be racing and I want to be in a race car, and I think we are working hard to do this.”

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.