Simona de Silvestro admits that needs to rethink her approach to qualifying for this weekend's IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg following her strong performance in opening practice on Friday.
The Swiss secured the third-fastest time in her first day with KV Racing on the Florida street circuit. But after having been a routine casualty of the first phase of the series' knock-out qualifying system last year, when she was hamstrung by the Lotus engine used by former team HVM, she says that has to adapt to the prospect of surviving deeper into the session.
"Going into qualifying... I'm not nervous about it, but it's something new again," she said. "Last year, every time I went out for qualifying, I would be [knocked] out right away. We'll see how the car is. I think starting up front always makes it a little easier.
"Literally, it felt like I was still driving in another category last year. The first time I went into a Chevy car it was such a difference. The biggest thing is that there are so many more tools. Last year we didn't even have a yellow [engine] map. Now, there are more aids that can help during a run and that's really useful."
While de Silvestro is enjoying her new-found opportunity to be competitive, she acknowledges that it increases the pressure to deliver results.
"I have been in the series for three years, and felt like we always struggled at something," she said. "I think we have something to prove. You really have to be on your 'A' game every weekend to win a race. I think the tools are here to treat me really well and [let me] be really competitive."
De Silvestro's career-best result came at the St. Petersburg circuit in 2011, when she chased now-teammate Tony Kanaan in the final stages of the race to finish fourth.