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IndyCar Season Preview: Simona de Silvestro

Photo credit: Ned Leone

#78 Entergy Dallara-Lotus, Lotus-HVM Racing

Born: September 1, 1988

Home: Thun, Switzerland

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: The 2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year signed a long-term contract with HVM Racing and multiple new sponsors, securing her place in IndyCar for years to come. She responded by starting the season with a fourth place finish at St. Petersburg and ninth place at Barber.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: Things fell apart for de Silvestro from there. She crashed heavily in qualifying at Indianapolis, suffering burns to her hands; she crashed again in qualifying at Milwaukee, causing her to pull out of that race early and skip the Iowa round after suffering concussion-like symptoms. Then, a passport snafu after a visit home in Switzerland forced her to miss the Sonoma race.

SEASON OUTLOOK: After a disastrous sophomore season, de Silvestro could have a serious shot at stepping up her game in 2012. Her HVM Racing team is now the flagship effort for the new Lotus-Judd engine program, after the brand shifted its focus away from KV Racing Technology. Her team may also make serious additions in the engineering department as a result of that partnership.

But Lotus was far and away the slowest of the three engine manufacturers to develop its 2.2-liter V6, and while Honda and Chevrolet engines spent plenty of time on track shaking down the Dallara DW12, Lotus was nowhere to be found. If they’re at a serious power disadvantage, as is the logical fear, de Silvestro may stay in that 20th place vicinity.

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