Life after F1 is tough for Schumacher and Barrichello

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They were team mates at Ferrari during the team’s domination of Formula One at the turn of the millennium. But life after F1 is proving to be tough for Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.

Schumacher, embarking on his second F1 retirement, was slated to participate in a kart race against some of the fastest young racers last week.

The 44-year-old took to the La Conca circuit in Italy on Thursday and Friday last week to practice. But he pulled out of the event before the competition began.

Victory in the weekend’s two finals went to Max Verstappen, the 15-year-old son of Jos Verstappen, who was Schumacher’s team mate during the year he won his first drivers’ championship.

Meanwhile another of Schumacher’s former team mates, Rubens Barrichello, was making a new start in Brazilian Stock Car Racing. Barrichello switched to IndyCar last year after leaving F1 and made steady progress, taking a fourth and a fifth in his last two finishes.

But after struggling to get a financial package together to continue racing in the series, Barrichello has swapped single-seaters for tin-tops and gone stock car racing in his home country.

Racing at his home venue of Interlagos, where luck often seemed to desert him in F1, Barrichello crossed the line in 25th place following a puncture. He participated in a handful of races in the category, finished 22nd twice.

Barrichello will return to action in two weeks’ time but it remains to be seen what plans Schumacher has for racing after leaving F1. Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has said Schumacher’s role with the company would be limited to the road car division following his F1 retirement.

Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic. Follow F1 Fanatic on Twitter.

Schmidt Peterson hires IndyCar’s first female lead engineer, will work with Hinchcliffe

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
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Leena Gade, who helped lead Audi to three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said in a team media release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), and I followed it quite a lot.

“During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, SPM’s general manager).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gade, who grew up in India and is from Great Britain, is one of the most recognized engineers in all forms of international motorsports. She becomes the first female lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.

She’s also the second female lead engineer in Indy racing history, joining Diane Holl, who served as engineer for Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.

Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, has engineered cars in several race series and for several manufacturers, including F1, BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing, Jaguar, Audi and most recently with Bentley Motorsport.

She became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, and followed that up with another Le Mans win in 2012, as well as being part of the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers titles in the same year.

Also in 2012, she was named FIA WEC “Man of the Year” and was awarded the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from the Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Her team also won Le Mans for a third time in 2014.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Piers Phillips said. “ I’ve known Leena for quite some time now and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

Gade and Hinchcliffe go into the deep end that Phillips referenced when they take part in a team test Jan. 24 at Sebring International Raceway, the first time the pair will work together.