I've loved Simona de Silvestro as a racer since her time in Atlantics, when she showed herself to be a driver who simply had that something "extra". No matter her ride, Simona always gave that feeling that she was a real talent, one on the cusp of making it big. Even though she suffered through some truly second or even third-rate rides in IndyCar, that sense of possibility remained. She showed herself to be plenty tough, too, as those burned hands from her incredible fight at Indy in 2011 would prove.
Now, the "Iron Maiden" has departed for greener pastures, as an affiliated driver with the Sauber F1 team. It's a great move for her, and I can't do anything but wish her the best. Do I wish she were driving for KV, Coyne, or another team that was floated as a possibility? Yes, but I also want to see her career reach the highest point I can.
INDYCAR currently has no full-time female drivers announced for 2014, something I know many folks (including my daughters!) would love to see remedied. At the same time, that's not something to be forced--the right driver for the right seat is always optimal, regardless of gender. I wish Simona could have found a deal that kept her in IndyCar, but I also know it's not an easy road, and situations aren't always as simple as they seem from a fan's perspective. Between team relationships, managers, money people, sponsors, and timing, there are a thousand reasons for a deal not to work for every one it might.
That's a lesson any racing fan learns eventually, I think. We all have our favorite driver, and I'm sure we've all had a favorite see their IndyCar career peter out. There are additions and subtractions in every racing series--be it F1, INDYCAR, sports cars, or another series. Drivers come and go, and we move on. Don't get me wrong, I'd prefer Simona be in an IndyCar this year. At the same time, I'm thankful for the drivers we have, and have plenty more I want to see get their chance--Peter Dempsey, Gabby Chaves, Jack Brabham, Shelby Blackstock, and plenty more throughout the Mazda Road to Indy. There's an add-and-subtract cycle there, especially for a series hovering around 23-26 entries. When someone goes, someone else gets their chance. It'll be hard to replace Simona in the series, but at the same time, IndyCar and its ladder is hardly starved for talent looking for their big break.
In a sense, it's a bit like being a baseball fan. As a long-suffering Kansas City Royals fan, I cheer for players like Alex Gordon, James Shields, and Billy Butler, even though I know they won't be with my favorite team forever. When they can't come to a deal, get traded, or simply decide to move on, I wish them the best, and focus on the players my team has. In baseball, as in IndyCar, I'll cheer for who we have, while we have them.
So happy trails, Simona, and I hope Sauber F1 is an amazing experience for you. We know drivers come and go, but that doesn't mean it isn't tough sometimes.