Nissan Motorsport rookie Simona De Silvestro has highlighted improving her qualifying performances and getting a better feel for the unique characteristics of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship race cars as crucial to her development in the series.
The Swiss racer started her rookie campaign on the back to two Wildcard appearances in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and a career spent racing open-wheelers in Europe.
After two events in her full-time career, the 28-year-old pinpointed the areas she needs to work on to move up the Supercars grid as she continues racing at circuit’s unfamiliar to her.
“The biggest thing really is qualifying,” she told Inside Supercars.
“So far I’ve always qualified at the back and it makes your life just that much tougher when you’re starting at the back.
“So that’s something I have to get on top of it in my driving and how I’m getting the tyres and really maximising that only lap we kind of only get.
“In the last race at Albert Park I really liked the feeling of the car.
“I worked a lot with my engineer (Blake Smith) to give me a bit of a feel that I tend to be more used to which was pretty good and it also made me much faster which was a big positive.
“I think in the race we’re always pretty good and all that.
“But I get frustrated with myself because every time we’re qualifying I think I put so much pressure on myself that I want to get it, then I just make little mistakes here and there.”
De Silvestro gets in some extra training between races and team transporters
While her background racing open-wheelers earned her a global reputation, De Silvestro says some of the techniques from racing those cars are not compatible with being competitive in Supercars.
“I think I’m so used to driving an open-wheel car where you go into qualifying carrying tonnes more speed through corners and that’s how you maximise the time,” she added.
“I feel like in these cars it’s definitely more getting the car turning and going earlier on power.
“I tend to kind of fall into the old thing I’m used to doing and it’s the wrong thing to do. So I just have to be more on top of it.
“And still in the car I’m still thinking too much, you know, for over my whole career I’ve developed a type of driving style and now I’m thinking ‘look I have to change that’ and it doesn’t feel natural to me yet.
“It’s starting to get there and the more I’m in the car the more natural it feels; how I’m braking into the corners and stuff like that.
“I always used to set up my cars with a tonne of front grip and get off the brake the carry tonnes of speed in there.
“It’s just a different type of driving I have to personally kind of get on top of it.”
De Silvestro added her approach to race weekends has changed since the Clipsal 500, with a 13th place finish at Albert Park a highpoint so far.
“The first race (Clipsal 500) it was it was more like just drive and see what It does,” she said.
“Now I’m actually with my engineer and I’m actually trying to get the car more like what I maybe like and I think that’s a big positive.”