MARANELLO, Italy : Simona de Silvestro moved a step closer to achieving her dream of competing in Formula One next year after a first day of in-car testing with Sauber.
The Swiss driver completed 112 laps in a two-year-old Sauber C31 at Ferrari's Fiorano Circuit in northern Italy.
"Although it's something very special to drive a Formula One car, I was not too nervous in the morning," De Silvestro said. "I was more focused on what my job would be. But after completing the installation lap I realized that this was my first lap in a Formula One car, and that this was something really special."
De Silvestro was confirmed as an affiliated driver with Sauber at the beginning of the year after four years in IndyCar. She earned her first career podium in October with a second-place finish at Houston. It was the first podium finish for a woman on a road course in IndyCar.
The 25-year-old driver will continue testing on Sunday.
"The G-forces are significantly higher compared to what I was used to in IndyCar," De Silvestro said. "Overall, I'm happy with my first day in a Formula One car. And with every outing I learned more about the behavior of the car. I can feel now where there is more potential and how I can use it.
"Physically I feel quite good, which is definitely a result of my preparation in recent months. I have been training really hard and this paid off. I can't wait to get into the car again tomorrow."
The plan is for De Silvestro to complete enough testing this year to gain an FIA superlicense, allowing her to line up on the grid in 2015.
"In the morning we achieved even more than we had planned," test engineer Paul Russell said. "For Simona it was really about learning and building the pace. Simona did a very solid job today. It was immediately clear that she is an experienced driver.
"It was as good a start in a Formula One car as you could hope for, and you couldn't really ask for more today."
De Silvestro moved to the United States at age 18 to drive in the Formula BMW USA series in 2006. She competed for the Atlantic Championship from 2007 to 2009, and was in IndyCar in 2010.
She won the Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year award in 2010.