IndyCar Series rookie Simona de Silvestro was disappointed, yet upbeat, after her debut on the streets of Sao Paulo.

The Swiss driver qualified eleventh in the #78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM car and narrowly missed the five-car wreck at the start, but suffered a flat right-rear tyre after running over debris during the full-course caution.

She re-joined in 13th spot but was quickly relegated to 17th having refuelled during the enforced stop. Her fortune would change, however, when another yellow flag came out, allowing de Silvestro to gain the lead as she stayed on track while the remainder of the field pitted.

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She was the first rookie to lead on debut since Graham Rahal at St Petersburg in 2008, but de Silvestro soon found herself fighting off Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dario Franchitti for the lead.

Their battle came to an end when the skies over Sao Paulo opened up, forcing all drivers back to the pits for rain tyres. Again de Silvestro stayed out but, unfortunately, the pits would close for another full-course caution, which forced de Silvestro to stay out on the racetrack for six laps.

As conditions worsened, the race was suspended and, after the half-hour red flag period, de Silvestro was once again bitten by bad luck. She began to experience rear suspension problems, causing her to take a trip back to the pits for lengthy repairs. After losing three laps, she returned to finish in 16th place.

"Despite the rear braking problems and the different things that happened during the race, it was a real good experience," de Silvestro reported, "I think we can be pretty competitive during the year - we just have to continue to work real hard and I'm sure we'll go in the right direction."

Team principal Keith Wiggins was satisfied, while sharing his driver's disappointment with the result.

"We started off pretty good, obviously, and we got into a pretty good position and looked very strong," he said, "but it went a bit against us when the rain came and the pits closed. It went downhill from there. It's a bit of a disappointing finish considering she was doing such a fantastic job."