Ex-IndyCar and Formula E racer Simona de Silvestro has become the latest high-profile name to join Extreme E’s roster of drivers ahead of the electric off-road series’ launch in 2021.
De Silvestro, who climbed the single-seater ranks in the USA through the Atlantic Championship – where she finished third in the standings – to IndyCar in 2010, joins fellow female drivers Katherine Legge, Jamie Chadwick and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky in the category’s Drivers’ Programme.
Extreme E boss Alejandro Agag announced last week that teams in the forthcoming championship need to have one male and one female in their two-person driver line-ups.
“For me it’s exciting to be a part of series that are pushing the boundaries of cars and automotive technology – Formula 1 was doing that when you think back, and now with Extreme E,” de Silvestro said of her move.
“I’ve been lucky enough to race in a lot of cool places but Extreme E’s destinations are all very different – they’ll be incredible to check out and discover whilst raising awareness and changing people’s way of thinking.
“It’s a privilege to be a driver in this era and be able to try to make a difference. I’ve followed progress of electric motorsport very closely and Alejandro Agag’s vision and drive is clear to see now with Extreme E.”
De Silvestro was the only female competitor in Formula E and Australia’s Supercars championship in recent years, and she now is plying her trade in GT racing.
She also believes that the new 50/50 driver line-up split for teams in Extreme E is a “great idea”.
“In most of motorsport, as drivers, you’re kind of alone. Having the opportunity to team up with someone is great and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” de Silvestro added.
“You’ll be approaching everything as a pair and as a team. There will be no room for selfishness and it’ll be something new to work together with the boys and try and win races.
“Most of the time throughout my career, I’ve been the only girl on the grid, so it will certainly be different. I experienced working in a more female-led environment in the 24 Hours of Daytona where we had an all-female team.
“Here, it’s cool because gender just doesn’t matter and whoever is the quickest combination of drivers, team and engineers will come out on top. It balances things out – everybody has to contribute and the format is there to create that opportunity.”
The Extreme E Drivers’ Programme is designed to promote professional drivers and help prospective teams in the series, which is due to kick off in January next year.
Despite limited off-road experience, de Silvestro is looking forward to playing a role in the program and hopes her time in the all-electric FE championship will help the transition to the category for the 550bhp all-electric ODYSSEY 21 SUV.
She said: “I haven’t had much experience on loose surfaces like gravel or ice so it will be extremely fun and a new challenge.
“The whole concept is quite special, with the goal of raising awareness of issues facing the planet and the race locations.
“Experience of how electric powertrains work and deliver their power right away is something that could help me that I can bring over from Formula E but it’ll be interesting to see how that works off-road! It’s a new way of thinking.”