With top-10 finishes in her previous two starts at this track, a new updated engine, and strong practice sessions all weekend, Lotus HVM Racing driver Simona De Silvestro was poised for a strong qualifying session at the Honda Indy Toronto. Unfortunately, qualifying didn't go as well as she and the team had hoped.
On a mostly wet track, De Silvestro had the #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car in the top-12 for the majority of this morning's practice before encountering some braking issues on the final two laps resulting in an 18th place finish in the session. With her pace on par with the rest of the field on the 1.75-mile street course, thanks in part to the new engine updates, De Silvestro was poised for potentially her best qualifying of the season.
A couple of factors contributed to the disappointing session. The first factor - black tires were used for all practice sessions and car setup, while red tires were used for qualifying. The difference in how the car handled was slight, but noticeable.
"I'm pretty disappointed," De Silvestro said. "We have a pretty strong race car; it just didn't come to us on reds. I don't know, we'll see what we've got tomorrow. We have a good race-pace, so hopefully we can go do some good things tomorrow."
The second factor was traffic. "We didn't get a clear lap which is on us," Keith Wiggins, team owner, said. "We need to make sure we don't get held up. We've made improvements. There've been improvements to the engine and we've made progress. Unfortunately, it wasn't reflected in qualifying. I just don't think we got the best out of the car for this session."
Team Manager Shane Seneviratne felt the result could have been better. "It was a disappointing qualifying session," he said. "We ran well all weekend. We had good practice sessions, but we just didn't put it together for the qualifying group. We have a good race car, so we're looking forward to the race."
The team faces a 10-spot penalty for an unapproved engine change. The starting grid will be announced after tomorrow's warm-up session. The 85-lap Honda Indy Toronto airs live on ABC tomorrow, Sunday, July 8 at 12:30 p.m. (ET).