It was announced this week that Simona De Silvestro would be leaving HVM and moving to KV Racing as Tony Kanaan’s teammate for 2013. This is a popular move, well received by the fans, and viewed with much optimism as a great opportunity for Simona. There is no doubt that the move is a step up. Regardless of how hard they tried HVM was an underfunded single car team and that made it hard to compete, particularly when they ended up with uncompetitive Lotus engines. I’m naturally skeptical though, so my question is whether this move is really the big step up that many seem to think it is?
I question what shape KV Racing is going to be in for 2013. They seemed to see a lot of movement in personnel over the last year which gives some indication of instability. Quite honestly, the team didn’t perform as expected in 2012. They’ll no longer have E.J. Viso and the large amount of PDVSA cash he brought to the team. Sure, Kevin Kalkhoven has deep pockets but how much of his own money is he willing to spend? The biggest question may be whether Simona’s and Kanaan’s sponsorship brings enough money to get the job done.
On the other hand, for the first time since she came to the top level of the sport, Simona will have a teammate. Two cars are more beneficial during testing and practice so the whole program won’t be resting solely on her shoulders. Perhaps the biggest benefit will be having a teammate with a lot of oval experience. No one doubts Simona’s abilities on the road and street courses but the ovals are where she’s had her problems; Kanaan’s experience should have a big influence in helping her adapt to and build confidence on the oval tracks.
It is also worth asking what Simona brings to the table. I think she brings more than just a sponsor with her to KV racing. She’s a stable personality, you’re not going to see her creating drama or making waves through the team. Her experience over the last few seasons of doing the best she could with not very much has to have sharpened her development skills. I won’t be surprised if she brings just as much to KV as they do for her.
In short, I think that not only is 2013 a pivotal year for De Silvestro but for KV Racing as well. The questions won’t all be about Silvestro but whether KV has what it takes to be a top level team along with Andretti, Ganassi, and Penske. I truly hope that TK, Simona, and the crew at KV can find the right chemistry and have a successful season because they’ll have the most popular driver lineup in the paddock.