Simona de Silvestro will return to the Indianapolis 500 this year with the newly-formed female-led Paretta Autosport team.
De Silvestro contested IndyCar full time from 2010 to 2013, earning the 2010 Rookie of the Year award along the way, and has been competing in Australian Supercars and sportscars since her most recent Indy 500 run in 2015.
Paretta is competing at the Indy 500 for the first time and will receive support from Team Penske.
“I am very excited to have this incredible opportunity to return to Indianapolis and the Indy 500 with Paretta Autosport this year,” De Silvestro said.
“My career really took off through my time competing in IndyCar and the Indy 500, so returning to compete with Beth [Paretta] and her new team in alliance with Team Penske is a special and rare chance in my career.
“Being part of the goal of diversity and inclusion for everyone, and especially women in IndyCar, and in motorsports in general, is very important to me and how I would like to see the future of racing.
“I want to thank the NTT IndyCar Series for taking such an important leadership role in providing gender and overall diversity inclusion in motorsports.
“I can’t wait to be back on the starting grid.”
Owner and Team Principle Beth Paretta laid out the team’s intention to be a long-term inspirational force in the NTT IndyCar series.
She hopes to fill out her team with as many women as possible, and believes that there are no hurdles keeping the operation from becoming a strong contender within the series.
The team will have a technical partnership with Team Penske, and is another part of the series’ Equality and Change initiative that began last year and has already assisted multiple diverse programs as they make their way into the sport.
Paretta made clear during the announcement that she very much intends her team to be a long-term program, rather than a one-off entry into the Indy 500.
“Today is the beginning of a commitment to gender equity in sport, to encourage women to work hard so they can earn their seat at the table or spot on the grid,” Paretta Autosport Team Principal Beth Paretta said.
“IndyCar has been a leader and a welcoming place for women for many years because of the hard work of many women and men before us, but now we have a stronger commitment with IndyCar’s ‘Race for Equality & Change’ to make sure opportunities continue in the future.
“This has always been a welcoming paddock to me and other women. After E&change, I called Roger and asked if we could talk. I have the good fortune of working with Mr. Penske since 2007.
“We’ll start with the 2021 Indy 500, with plans to grow from there. We’ll strive to incorporate more women into the team. Eventually we hope it will be a team of women running the car. That can and will inspire others.
“Our team, along with our technical alliance with Team Penske, will work hard to give Simona the best car we can provide so she can achieve her best results. Competition drives us.
“The Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world, and one day soon we hope to have a woman’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.”
The Baretta Autosport entry will run with Chevrolet engines, and will initially be based in North Carolina due to the partnership with Team Penske.
The team will contest its first race May 30, for the 105th Indianapolis 500.