Simona de Silvestro has extended her stay with the Andretti Autosport team after being given a deal to qualify and race for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 driving the orange-and-white #29 TE Connectivity-sponsored Honda entry.

The Swiss driver made what was initially a one-off appearance for the team in last week’s season opener at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

It marked her return to the Verizon IndyCar Series after a year away pursuing a Formula 1 opportunity with Sauber, which fell through when he sponsorship collapsed.

Simona de Silvestro

De Silvestro had an incident-filled return outing at the Grand Prix of St Petersburg

Andretti had already announced that Justin Wilson would race the #25 entry used by de Silvestro, but now has expanded to a five-car team to she can return for the ‘Greatest Spectacle In Racing’ alongside Wilson and the team’s regular drivers, 2012 IndyCar Champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, and his teammates Marco Andretti and 2013 Rookie of the Year Carlos Muñoz.

“I’m so excited to be representing TE Connectivity at this year’s Indy 500,” said de Silvestro. “It’s really great that they’re partnering with me in my efforts during the Indy 500, and with their advance technologies in my Honda IndyCar, I will for sure have one of the best opportunities to win during the Month of May.”

Team owner Michael Andretti added: “Simona did a great job for us in St Pete and we are excited to add her as a fifth Andretti entry for the Indy 500. We could not have found a better partner than TE Connectivity to be primary sponsor of the #29 while their experience in racing is longstanding with their connector and sensor solutions, they are new to the sponsorship team and show great passion for the sport and I look forward to a successful future with TE Connectivity as part of the Andretti family.”

De Silvestro finished 18th in St Petersburg following a number of incidents in the race. She had qualified eleventh for her return and has made 66 appearances in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“You’re waiting for the opportunity and you have to be ready for it when it comes. So far, things have come along as we’ve been hoping for so we will move ahead and give it our best shot,” de Silvestro added.

A promoter test on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway featuring the new speedway aero kits is scheduled for May 3, while practice for the Indy 500 begins May 11 and qualifications are from May 17 to 18.

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8