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Lots of learning achieved for de Silvestro in debut Supercars season

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Former Verizon IndyCar Series standout Simona de Silvestro has endured somewhat of a global odyssey since her last full season of IndyCar competition in 2013.

She spent 2014 in an affiliation with Sauber F1 Team and tested older chassis with the goal of entering Formula 1 with them in 2015, but the two parted ways in the Fall of 2014.

She briefly rejoined the IndyCar ranks in 2015 and ran three races with Andretti Autosport (St. Petersburg, NOLA Motorsports Park, and the Indianapolis 500) before entering a pair of Formula E outings at the London ePrix double-header in 2015 – the final events of the inaugural Formula E season – also with Andretti Autosport. That sparked a full-season effort in the 2015-16 campaign with the same squad, dubbed Amlin Andretti Formula E at the time.

However, the 2017 season saw a complete change in direction for the 29-year-old native of Switzerland, who has spent her career in mostly open wheel categories, as she joined the Supercars Championship, commonly referred to as V8 Supercars, in Australia. Having had a taste of Supercars competition in 2015 and 2016 after entries into the Bathurst 1000, she spent the 2017 season with Nissan Motorsport, her first full-season foray that did not involve an open wheel machine.

On paper, the season appeared to be a struggle, as she had a best finish of only 15th. However, she appeared to make progress at every round, with the season-ending Newcastle 500 likely her best outing of the year, as she battled inside the top 10 and looked set to finish sixth before wall contact on the final lap relegated her to 20th.

Race 2 showed positive signs as well, as she ran near the top 10 before a spin dropped her through the field, leaving her to finish 17th.

However, in an article posted on Australian news outlet Speedcafe, de Silvestro expressed a sense of optimism after ending the season with a strong performance, even if the finishing position did not ultimately reflect it.

“This is really positive for next year to end this season with such good pace,” she said following the weekend. “I had a strong car for most of Sunday afternoon and was able to pass a few cars, which was cool. But unfortunately, we got turned around by a pretty silly move, which ruined our day. The car was really strong this weekend, so I’m annoyed we didn’t record the results that reflected that pace.”

De Silvestro added that the Newcastle venue, new to the Supercars championship this year, proved beneficial as it meant her lack of familiarity with the tracks – she saw nearly all of them for the first time this year – was not nearly as much of a handicap as in previous races since everyone needed to learn the circuit.

“I think the biggest thing from the weekend was that everyone started from a level playing field. Because the track was new, we were able to be more in the mix and not start behind the ball. The track also suited me quite well. I really enjoyed it,” she explained.

De Silvestro, who finished 24th in the championship in 2017, is slated to remain with Nissan Motorsport in 2018 for her sophomore Supercars campaign.

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Valtteri Bottas fastest in Friday F1 practices for Russian Grand Prix

F1 Sochi Valtteri Bottas
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SOCHI, Russia — Valtteri Bottas paced both F1 practices Friday for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was slowed by damaged tires in the first session.

Bottas turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.519 seconds in the second session that bettered Hamilton’s 1:33.786.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was more than a second behind Bottas in third at 1:34.577, followed by the McLaren Racing duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:34.723) and Lando Norris (1:34.847).

In the first F1 session at Sochi, Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 34.923 seconds, beating Ricciardo by half a second. Max Verstappen was third quickest in his Red Bull, a further 0.147 back.

Hamilton could only manage 19th fastest after locking up his tires and leaving them with a flat spot. Ferrari again struggled to find pace with Sebastian Vettel ninth and Charles Leclerc 11th.

HISTORY IN SIGHTLewis Hamilton aims to tie Michael Schumacher’s record

The first session was briefly red-flagged when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren backward into a barrier and broke off his rear wing.

Verstappen spun during the second session but avoided damage to his car.