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Simona de Silvestro makes F1 test debut - The new Sauber star gets behind the wheel at Fiorano

Published by Christine

Simona gets cozy on day two of running
Simona gets cozy on day two of runningCredit: Mariano Collidoro/Sauber F1

When Simona de Silvestro was announced as an affiliate driver, attached to the Sauber F1 team for the 2014 season, it wasn't entirely clear what her role was. There was talk of ambitions to get a race seat in Formula One next year, but there's a lot of work to be done before that. Simona got off to a great start this past weekend, participating in a two day private test for the team, at the Fiorano circuit in Italy.

On the first day, the Swiss driver completed more than 100 laps in a two-year old car with special Pirelli tyres designated for the testing purpose. As a private test, we have no specific times to compare and contrast her work, but there were no incidents and really that's all I look for in a debut test.

Notably, the Sauber was sporting a different livery to that which we have come to know, as Simona launched a new Clean Air initiative this weekend and ran the branding on the C31. The Clean Air Energy campaign hopes to raise awareness about "clean, reliable and sustainable energy" which includes the transport sector and ties in nicely with F1's efforts to move towards environmentally friendly technologies.

Raising awareness for environmentally friendly technology
Raising awareness for environmentally friendly technologyCredit: Tiziana De Silvestro/Sauber F1

After her first day in the car, Simona admitted that she tried to put her feelings to one side, but couldn't help getting excited once she realised she really was completing her first lap in an F1 car.

What impressed me most was the downforce of the car and the braking. When I did my first lap the brakes were cold, but even then the deceleration was beyond what I had experienced before. The g-forces are significantly higher compared to what I was used to in IndyCar. Overall, I'm happy with my first day in a Formula 1 car.

- Simona de Silvestro, affiliate driver, Sauber

The second day of testing saw Silvestro back behind the wheel for another run, completing 68 laps to bring her total to 180. As the team themselves put it, the weekend went "without the slightest issue." They strapped a GoPro to the car for one of Simona's lap, sharing the video for us all to enjoy. (No one mention the engine noise, please.)

We don't have any specific comment on what was being tested and whether it will have any immediate impact on the performance of the race cars driven by Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutiérrez. We know that Sauber's main issue at the moment is reducing the weight of the cars, and the C31 chassis probably isn't going to help with that problem. Nevertheless, the team are happy with Silvestro's work in Italy.

Over night she had the time to reflect on a lot of things and was able to adapt her driving accordingly. She learned the track well yesterday, so we had the opportunity to get some set-up work done today. Simona drove very well, had a good pace and was consistent.

- Paul Russell, test engineer, Sauber

There are plans for Simona to be back in action in the C31 in late June, driving the Valencia circuit, as she continues to gather more experience for her Formula One CV and required super licence.

Good pace from Simona
Good pace from SimonaCredit: Mariano Collidoro/Sauber F1