De Silvestro set on racing in F1 next year
Simona De Silvestro wants to race in Formula One and Sauber believe she has what it takes to end decades of waiting for a female grand prix driver, team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said on Friday.
The 25-year-old Swiss driver told reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix - the first she has attended this season - that she was still aiming to be on the starting grid in 2015.
No woman has started a grand prix since Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976. Although British driver Susie Wolff is due to take part in some Friday practice sessions with Williams this season, she will not race.
Indian-born Kaltenborn, the only woman principal in the 11-team sport, told Reuters the former IndyCar racer - who finished second on the Houston street circuit last year - had the potential to break through.
"She's had one test and it's gone well...all the ingredients are there, she's doing a very good job so far," she said.
"She's done a fantastic run in the simulator, she's physically very well prepared and she's learning very quickly.
"It's not the capability which is lacking in women to come in here...it's lacking an opportunity and I think if you are in the sport and in positions where you can make a difference and do something, we women need to do that."
De Silvestro tested a two-year-old Sauber at Ferrari's Fiorano circuit last month and will test again in Valencia for three days at the end of June. She hoped she might also take part in Friday practice sessions before the year was out.
Sauber, who had financial troubles last year and are still feeling the pinch, have a surplus of drivers chasing two race seats next year and any decision will have a financial element.
Apart from current racers Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez, the Swiss team also has Dutchman Giedo van der Garde as test and reserve with Russian teenager Sergei Sirotkin as another tester.
De Silvestro is officially listed as an affiliated driver.
Sauber have said they are aiming to bring Sirotkin into Formula One next season, and are in talks with his Russian backers although Kaltenborn said the Ukraine crisis had slowed the process.
"Everybody is rather in a waiting position and seeing what is going to happen next, which is fully understandable," she said. "If you don't know what is going to happen, you just wait and see. That's the position we are in now."