Simona de Silvestro will have a new and hopefully improved Lotus engine this weekend at Toronto.
De Silvestro said Tuesday the new engine has been installed and she will get her first laps on track with it at Toronto. IndyCar last week approved upgrades for Lotus intended to help the struggling manufacturer, but de Silvestro thinks it could be a month before HVM Racing sees on-track improvement.
"Lotus is going to bring us an update, we think, before every race," she said. "We'll see how Toronto works out, but we think if we keep focusing on what we are doing, if we get to Baltimore (Sept. 2) and can run in the top 10, that would be really good for us. I think we are going to go to Toronto pretty open and excited to see what this new engine can do."
The engine was installed after Monday's test at Mid-Ohio, the first session HVM has participated in since the preseason in part because Lotus has lagged so far behind IndyCar rivals Chevrolet and Honda in this first season of competing engine manufacturers.
Because her team has not tested anywhere since the start of the season, de Silvestro worked on other areas of the car at Mid-Ohio and the new engine was not a priority. She has finished only three of the nine races this season and was black-flagged after 10 laps in the Indianapolis 500 because the Lotus cars were too slow. Her car didn't even make it off the starting grid at Texas, where the record book shows she failed to start the race.
"It is a bit frustrating in the sense we've had some pretty strong race cars, especially at Detroit and Iowa, but it's so hard for us to pass," she said. "We can have a pretty good race pace, but when it comes time to pass, we don't have the speed and it's been so hard.
"And we've only finished three races, which is not a good record, and it's made it difficult to focus on the areas that really need improvement. We focused on two areas at the test, and we'll keep moving forward and hope our speed improves with the updates."
Lotus began the year with five teams. All but HVM defected to other manufacturers before the Indy 500 in May.
She said being the sole team with Lotus has been a mixed bag: It's been helpful to receive all the attention from the manufacturer, but de Silvestro believes her team has been at a disadvantage in not having another driver or team to talk to about strategies and development.
All of it has made it a trying year for de Silvestro, who showed speed and skill last season but was hampered by an old car. She was also burned in a crash at Indy that caused her a personal setback.
"The biggest problem that happened the last two years was my crash at Indy hurt me a little bit, because it took me some time to get my confidence back," she said. "But we still had the problem with the chassis, we just had struggles with that chassis that hurt us. This year we took a gamble to get with Lotus, and it's also been trying.
"But racing, it is not always rosy. I've learned a lot this year about engines, and we have a very strong engineering group with the team. Hopefully with the work we are doing this year, we get to the end of the season and we are better."