A Good Drive for Simona Despite an Early Finish
The Grand Prix of Baltimore was one of those races that kept you sitting on the edge of your seat the whole time. “What a race!” was on everyone’s lips when the checker dropped. Nine caution flags and twelve lead changes along with crashes and spins.
Lotus driver Simona De Silvestro (#78 Lotus HVM Racing) was hoping this would be a good day for her, as the weather forecast was calling for rain. Unfortunately, the heavy rains did not come in time. Only light sprinkles covered the track, and only for a few laps.
And even though De Silvestro had to start from the back of the grid again for today’s race (because of a 10-grid penalty for an unapproved engine change), she did manage to move up all the way to 14th place at halfway through the race.
De Silvestro and her #78 Lotus machine drove a good consistent race and stayed out of trouble, while other cars were busy getting caught in the action. But, on lap 38, she did what many other drivers had done, she got into the wall coming out of the famous chicane. That ended her race and put her in 22nd position.
There was disappointment on everyone’s face in the Lotus HVM Racing pit box.
After a long quiet moment, De Silvestro spoke: “Well, I’m disappointed because I made a mistake. I hit the curb in the chicane and it ended our day. Until then it was kind of a crazy race. We made some positions; we don’t know where we would have finished. This time it’s kind of my fault. It’s a shame because we were doing really well. Now you just go to the next one I guess.”
Keith Wiggins, Lotus HVM team owner had high hopes for a good result since De Silvestro drives this track so well. "As the race turned out we had a pretty good opportunity," he said. "Like everyone else, we just needed to stay out of trouble. We looked quite good early. We had a solid strategy that was playing out, but we weren't able to stay clean until the end. It's just unfortunate that it ended that way."
HVM team manager, Shane Seneviratne was disappointed as well considering how well De Silvestro has been driving this season. "It's obviously disappointing," he said. "Simona has driven great all year. She made a mistake here that put her out of the race. We had a couple of incidents earlier on, but they were small ones. The team changed the front wing out and we recovered from it. I'm disappointed for all the sponsors that are here and want to thank them for all their support. We'll do our best at Fontana."
Tom Brown, team technical director for Lotus HVM Racing agrees that De Silvestro had a good shot at a very strong finish. "It was becoming an interesting race," he said. "Multiple strategies were being played out among the teams. We were looking very good. Sim was pushing hard and got bit by the chicane around mid-way. As always we pushed and worked hard all weekend to keep maximizing what we had."
Olivier Picquenot, IndyCar Manager for Lotus Racing, commented: “Unfortunately Simona had to start from the back of the grid again after a misfortune in qualifying and a second 10-grid penalty for the same engine change. She had a good start and stayed with the group but broke her front wing from contact with Takuma Sato. That changed the strategy and the chance to stay with the pack. We hoped for rain at the start to give us a chance to be back with Simona’s driving style in the rain. After a few accidents from other competitors and some restarts, she gained some precious positions and was running with the same pace as the front runners even with the second front wing broken from touching Dario Franchitti in turn one, at a restart.
For once, everybody was happy to see Simona/ Lotus HVM racing with the possibility to finish better than 15 and take some crucial points before the end of the season, and maybe have the chance to gain some championship positions and qualify for next year’s leader circle. Unfortunately, on Lap 38, Simona was airborne at the chicane and landed in the wall as well as many other drivers. But that’s racing.”
The end of the 75-lap race was just as exciting as the whole race itself with Ryan-Hunter Reay (#28 - Andretti Autosport) taking the lead on a restart with just two laps to go. Ryan Briscoe (#2 –Team Penske) finished second followed by Simon Pagenaud (#77- Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports).
The Lotus HVM Racing Team will be heading back west for the season finale in Fontana on Saturday, September 15th. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network at p.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM Channel 94 (XM) and 211 (Sirius)
Race distance: 150 miles
Cautions: 9 for 24 laps
Lead changes: 12 among 7 drivers
Time of race: 2:09:02
Average speed: 71.132