Following a tough month of May at Indianapolis, Simona de Silvestro and her HVM Racing squad are looking forward to better things after this week's test at the Milwaukee Mile.
De Silvestro suffered first- and second-degree burns to her hands in a practice crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 19. She qualified 23rd for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 on Pole Day and finished 31st in the race (due to a handling issue, not a hand issue, although she admitted that her burns had been bothering her even after just a handful of laps).
However, de Silvestro said her injuries were much less bothersome during Wednesday's test, when her No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy HVM car was one of 12 cars to hit the track.
“They're getting better,” the 22-year-old Swiss driver said of her hands. “Actually, I think I'm a fast healer. Pretty much the left hand is almost good, and the right hand, we're getting there. There's just a couple of spots where there's still some skin missing but it's growing back. It definitely was a lot of up and downs because of the crash, but it's getting better.”
Wednesday was de Silvestro's first run on the historic oval and after 154 laps of testing, the team felt it went well. She quickly found her stride in the morning and was able to improve as the day went on, ending up as one of the quickest of the group.
"This was my first time at the Milwaukee Mile and other drivers have told me that it's a really fun track," she said. "For the first couple of laps, I was a little hesitant but it didn't take long before I started pushing the car, and it felt much better. The whole team did an unbelievable job getting the car ready, especially after the month of May that we had. I think we have a good setup and the car feels really good. I'm happy with how the day ended."
In regard to her confidence in the cockpit after her massive crash in practice at IMS, de Silvestro said, "I feel pretty comfortable right now back in the car, especially on those last few laps. I was able to push the car and it was great."
“You still kind of think about it,” she admitted of her grinding wreck, which she acknowledged at Indy had temporarily sapped her motivation. “It was definitely difficult. I've had other crashes, and I never had that thought (of quitting), and this time I did. So it definitely shook me up quite a bit. And then when you get back in the car, it kind of feels all right, so you know what you're doing. You know you're going to hit the wall. It just happens, and you hope that it isn't as bad as what happened to me in Indy."
Also on hand for the test at Milwaukee, Tony Kanaan said he had been greatly impressed by de Silvestro's response to her injuries.
"She's my hero," the Brazilian told IndyCar.com. “I said (to her), ‘It's unfair for me to tell you to be strong, because you showed everybody in the world.' If any men had any doubts that women are stronger than men, she proved that. I knew that already. So now she just needs to take her time, which she has. I mean, if you look at her hands, my God.”