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IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Simona DeSilvestro
March 27, 2011


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our story of the day, driver of the fourth place finish in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Simona de Silvestro. Her fourth place finish is her career best in the IZOD IndyCar Series. And Simona, let's talk about that fight with Tony Kanaan at the end of the race. Just talk trying to pass.
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Yeah you know we kind of battled like the last 15 laps to get in. You know, it was kind of a high risk to try to pass him because it was so dirty on the inside of one.
But I had one shot that I think I could have made it, but you know, I kind of almost overshot it. So I think I'm really happy with fourth, because we started 17th and how we started the weekend, you know, it wasn't how I would think that we would end the race here.
You know, I'm just really glad my new engineer that we started working together on Friday and to be running fourth today is something pretty special.
THE MODERATOR: Last year in the opener you led laps, and you're the first rookie to lead laps in a race since Graham Rahal did here at St. Petersburg. With all that you went through with your engineer leaving, how gratifying is it to get fourth place?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: It's huge. You know, yeah, like I said, I never thought on Friday that we would be running so well during the race. You know, we are keeping up with the leaders, and you know, my new engineer, like communication in the beginning was pretty tough because I never worked with him. But you know, this morning it seems like it really clicked and really tried to figure it out.
For sure, you know, it was a tough moment for the team last weekend. We were putting much scrambling together to try to find a new engineer, and I think we made the right choice. Brent Harvey is pretty awesome, and you know how he talks to me on the radio, too, he's really calming me down, so I think we are making a good team together.

Q. Describe what you saw going into the first turn and the first lap?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Yeah, you know, I started way back there, so I couldn't see anything very much because there was so much dust. But you know, I kind of made it through and I guess so, I think Marco, I saw a car kind of going up in the air and I was like trying to find a hole and I found it.
So I came out in ninth position, so I think I made the right move and maybe a little bit lucky, also, through turn one at the start of the race.

Q. One quick follow‑up. What did you think when you saw Marco upside down?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Oh, I didn't know even know he was upside down. I hope he's all right. It's always, you know, kind of crazy when something big like that happens. You never wish anything like that happens to any driver but it happened and I hope he's all right.

Q. How did you work yourself into a position to be in a position to race for a podium finish?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Yeah, it was kind of hard, I got the inside and pretty much everybody kind of came down on me and I pretty much had nowhere to go. You know, I kind of made a little bit of contact with Will because I was pretty much on the rumble strip (ph).
But I thought the double‑file restarts were pretty fun because it actually gave us a chance to actually make positions, where you know, last year, every time we would start single file, it would be hard and you would be pretty much just following the leader. I think it made it exciting and I really enjoyed it.

Q. Did you have it boost left at the end and do you think you would have gotten Tony if you had a couple of extra laps?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: I definitely had a couple of boosts left. Maybe I should have used it a little bit earlier, but I got close a couple of times to TK because he was making a couple of mistakes.
But like I said it was really high risk to try to make the move. You know, I was running fourth and I never really quite got the shot that I was next to him.
You know, I didn't take any crazy chances to, you know, ruin our race pretty much because the championship is really long.

Q. What is the biggest thrill in your racing career so far? And as a female driver, do you ever compare notes with Danica or talk to her?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Definitely Indy was one of my highlights, because just to qualify for the Indy 500, not many drivers get this opportunity, and we were in the field last year. You know, I couldn't believe how many people that were there and just to be part of such a race.
And definitely today is going to go right up there, too, because I think it was one of my best races I've done. I didn't really do many mistakes and I think I really liked that.
Being a female driver, I really get along with Danica but it's not that we compare notes or anything. I think she's doing a great job, and at the end I think we are just here to try to beat every other driver.

Q. You said the car got a lot better this morning in the warmup. Did you make a lot of changes? What did you do to it?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Yeah pretty much. We struggled with the new tire with our car. We couldn't quite figure it out, and then this morning we pretty much changed a couple of things on the car and suddenly it was there. I finally had the feel for the car.
And I think mostly, too, it was more the communication between my engineer and me that started to click this morning, where before, you know, he was trying to understand me, I was trying to understand him. And for me, it always has been a big part that†‑‑ with my engineer to have really great communication and this morning, I think, okay, that's what we are going to do and it just kind of went the right direction.

Q. Talk about Wiggy (ph), here is a guy that's been a survivor in this business and there's been often years where you wonder how he gets from race to race, but he's been able to make a lot with very little.
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Yeah, definitely. I think even last year when I was racing there, we struggled towards the end to get the sponsorship together. But you know, he worked hard and he has a great team of people in the team. And they are like a big family. It's a pretty small team but I really get along really well, and my manager, too, Imran Safiulla, he put the whole Nuclear Clean Energy deal together, and those folks are going to be with me for the next couple of years.
I'm really lucky; not many drivers have this opportunity. And to an industry like this supporting and you choosing you as a spokesperson is something pretty special.

Q. How much grip was left in your Reds at the end of the race?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: It was pretty good. Like when we compared to last year, the Reds really felt off and we were a little bit worried if we were going to run two sets of Reds. We did our first stint and when we were on the second stint, I was asking how TK was doing on Reds and he seemed to be doing fine.
We had a lot more grip on the Reds and we chose those, and pretty much for the whole last stint, we had a lot of grip the whole way through and I think Firestone did a really great job with their tires this year.

Q. What is your opinion on the new restart procedure?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: I think it's pretty cool because I got to pass a lot of cars (laughing).

Q. Now that TK is here, you can answer it, as well. Have you raced together before? Are you friends what relationship do you have?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: It's the first time really competing against each other. You know, it's pretty crazy for me because I've been watching him since I was growing up and to be right there racing him now is pretty cool, you know. (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Simona, thanks for your time and congratulations on a fourth place finish. We are now joined by the second and third place finishers from today's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Will Power and Tony Kanaan.

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