Former Sauber F1 test driver Simona de Silvestro will return for a sixth attempt at the Indy 500 with Paretta Autosport.
Parett Autosport has announced its entry to the 2021 Indy 500, running the number 16 car for the event. The team will “integrate women to ensure that it provides opportunities, including competition, operations and administrative roles such as logistics, marketing and public relations,” as well as running De Silvestro as their driver.
The new team has been formed to contest this year’s Indy 500 as, as an extension of IndyCar’s Race For Equality & Change. The initiative aims to diversify IndyCar, from grassroots programme support to looking at recruitment and procurement processes across IndyCar and its promoters. Last month Force Indy, a USF2000 junior series team, was formed to promote black Americans into motorsport and Paretta Autosport marks the first team aimed specifically to help diversify the main series.
The team is led by Beth Paretta, a former Fiat-Chrysler automotive executive who also led Grace Autosport, which announced a 2016 Indy 500 entry with Katherine Legge as a driver. That entry ultimately did not come to fruition and the team did not attempt to qualify, having not announced whether it would run with Honda or Chevrolet power.
The Paretta Autosport entry will run a Chevrolet engine and receive technical and engineering support from Team Penske. Paretta, confirmed as team principal, said “Today is the beginning of a commitment to gender equity in sport, to encourage women to work hard so they can earn their seat at the table or spot on the grid.
“IndyCar has been a leader and a welcoming place for women for many years because of the hard work of many women and men before us, but now we have a stronger commitment with IndyCar’s ‘Race for Equality & Change’ to make sure opportunities continue in the future.
“Our team, along with our technical alliance with Team Penske, will work hard to give Simona the best car we can provide so she can achieve her best results. Competition drives us. The Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world, and one day soon we hope to have a woman’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.”
Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp, which owns IndyCar, said that the team would be responsible for its own performance, despite the support from the overall series. “It will be up to Simona and the team to qualify the car for the grid, but knowing Beth, I know that her team will be up for the task.”
De Silvestro, who last drove in IndyCar in 2015 for Andretti and has contested five previous Indy 500 events, said “My career really took off through my time competing in Indycar and the Indy 500, so returning to compete with Beth and her new team in alliance with Team Penske is a special and rare chance in my career.
“Being part of the goal of diversity and inclusion for everyone, and especially women in IndyCar, and in motorsports in general, is very important to me and how I would like to see the future of racing. I want to thank the series for taking such an important leadership role in providing gender and overall diversity inclusion in motorsports.”
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