SUPERCARS newcomer Simona De Silvestro has set her sights set on a maiden top-10 finish after a promising start to her championship career.The Swiss driver sits 19th in the championship after three championship events and has improved her results at consecutive events.
Back-to-back 13th place finishes at Phillip Island have been an early highlight, with the Harvey Norman-backed driver as high as sixth on Saturday before a penalty shifted her down the order.
While qualifying remains her biggest area to improve, De Silvestro is confident she will quickly develop the speed and race craft to battle inside the top-10.
“I didn’t put any expectations on at the beginning of the season to be honest,” she told Supercars.com.
“For sure, having the results, the biggest thing is we’re quite conservative in the race at Phillip Island.
“I pushed it a little bit more setup-wise in the race and it got better.
“We finished 13th twice and now I think we’re getting closer to the limit with the car and myself.
“Hopefully we can crack into the top-10 which would be a pretty good achievement.
“I think the biggest thing this year is to stay out of trouble and finish the races.
“I’ve learned in my experiences it’s not worth crashing right away. I think it’s a big step back when you do that.
“You do have to find the limit, but more laps and trying to understand what you need to do as a driver is worth the loss.”
The 28-year-old added her Nissan Motorsport team is allowing her the freedom to experiment with her car alongside engineer Blake Smith
Despite two Bathurst starts to her name before her full-time Supercars tilt, De Silvestro explained the involvement has not been pivotal in her transition to the series.
“The Bathurst experiences were quite different because you went into the weekend just dealing with that’s,” she said.
“I think the biggest thing is really that the team lets me try to do my own thing with my engineers.
“They make me feel really comfortable in that sense. If I want to try something and discussed it with my engineer to try to get that feel, we are able to try it out.
“It wasn’t just ‘here’s the car, you have to figure out how to drive it’.
That’s something that made me feel really comfortable right away and improve myself.
“Each driver likes different things, so I was able to work on that quite early in the season. I think that’s what is really giving me the results at the moment.”
De Silvestro added engineer Smith’s previous experience working with open-wheel series in the USA is helping their combined understanding.
“Sometimes I have ideas that are open-wheel-ish,” she said.
“We struggled a bit with understeer in the high speed stuff (a Phillip Island), and I would tell him ‘If I was in IndyCar I would put more front wing in it’, he can kind of translate to what I want.
“Because he’s worked in open-wheeler, when I tell him something about a feel I want, he’s able to translate it into Supercars. I think we’re working quite well with this.”