"Yes, we’ve signed a multi-year agreement with a sponsor to secure Simona’s future," team owner Keith Wiggins told SpeedTV. “We’ll have an official announcement and press conference in January but that’s all we can say.”
He did reportedly add that the sponsor will be new to racing.
Good news on so many fronts (as you can tell by my headline I'm a Simona fan). I'm not the only one DeSilvestro won over in 2010, as she earned plenty of fans with her outgoing demeanor and respect among her fellow drivers for her performance on a one-car team that struggled with funding all year. At Indy she was a first-day qualifier who finished on the lead lap in 14th place and was named Rookie of the Year, led laps in Brazil and had a great weekend at Edmonton before being spun out mid-race.
A couple of places I've read states that this is a very underrated signing, and I agree. Simona represents the "new era" of driver that the series is looking for and needs to continue with the momentum it has begun building over the last few months.
A great indication of that is to how well she handled with the car fire incident at Texas. That was a total failure and screw up of epic proportions, but the fact that she was able to handle it with such diplomacy goes a long way towards showing her savvy for knowing how to stand up in the public eye.
Behind the wheel, the fact she is a woman is a sidelight, it doesn't really matter. In relation to the public, I see her as a potential replacement for the retiring Sarah Fisher in terms of overall appeal.
DeSilvestro has that kind of personality and PR intelligence that true fans will be attracted to. Maybe not the fans who follow whichever driver the media tells them to, but sooner or later they will come around as well.
It's good for the series to have women drivers. From a competition side it is a level playing field so it gives the opportunity for men and women to truly compete against each other, which is great to see. When I'm watching a race, it's just names and cars and numbers. Women can win races, and they already have. No other sport can say that, and that is what makes racing unique.
From a series standpoint, it offers crossover appeal which brings more people into the sport. IndyCar needs to put people in the seats, get them to buy merchandise and watch the broadcast on TV. The more broad the spectrum of drivers, the more potential there is to find fans.
I've read places where Simona is interested in driving F1, but unless he had some sense beaten into him (low blow, but come on, it set itself up and the guy is a chauvinistic ass!) it is very unlikely to happen in Bernie Ecclestone's lifetime -- and even beyond given the heavily political nature of that series. In the end their loss is IndyCar's gain, and I think she will be a force in American open wheel racing for some time to come.