Mar 24, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT
Simona de Silvestro finished sixth Sunday in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, a result that left her, her team and throngs of supporters disappointed.
That’s a good omen for a driver who a year ago could have only dreamed of such a result, enduring through 15 races with the woefully underpowered Lotus powerplant.
De Silvestro, the 24-year-old Swiss driver who’s shifted to KV Racing Technology and now has a Chevrolet engine, ran in the top five all race and was on course for her first series podium finish in the last 20 laps.
Unfortunately, her tires faded toward the end of the race, and she was unable to hold off a train of cars behind her. She dropped to sixth at the flag, behind Marco Andretti and KVRT teammate Tony Kanaan, and was caught in the middle of a three-wide photo finish behind Scott Dixon and ahead of EJ Viso.
“It’s been a good weekend for us,” de Silvestro said. “Unfortunately we lost a few positions at the end there. We kind of ran out of tires at the end. I think we can be pretty happy with sixth. Now we know what we have to work on for the next race. It was really cool to be up front all day with Will, Hinch and everybody; it was awesome.”
Small consolation is that the top 10 finish was her first since a 10th place in Toronto in 2011, and second best result of her IndyCar career.
De Silvestro finished ninth at Barber, the next round of the championship, in 2011.