Caterham owner dismisses sale rumors

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Caterham F1 Team owner Tony Fernandes has spoken out to silence rumors that he may be set to sell the team after it has failed to meet his expectations.

Although the tycoon did admit that he expected Caterham to be running in the midfield by now, he believes that the team has come too far to simply walk away.

“We went in with our eyes wide open and we are too far down the line with Caterham so, no, I will not be leaving,”  Fernandes told Sky Sports. “It’s not about winning the world championship for me, it’s about building a car, which has always been my dream and that’s progressing quite well.”

The team has beaten closest-rivals Marussia in all three of its active seasons, but the tables may have turned in 2013 as the Anglo-Russian team currently sits P10 in the constructors’ championship. However, with Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde impressing of late for Caterham, they could be set to re-claim this position in Monaco this weekend. Fernandes is pleased with the progress that the team has made, and he is keen on it continuing in the coming years, even if they are not meeting his early expectations.

“If we had just continued on our normal path we probably would have been in the midfield by now, so we’ve learned the hard way. But on the business side it’s done everything I wanted it to.

“I also think we’ve the right people now, but would I say we are 100 per cent where we want to be? No. We’ve a nice facility in Leafield and we’re going in the right direction.”

Fernandes refused to make too wild a claim and set his sights on a world championship any time soon, but he is hopeful that Caterham could yet score some points in the next season or two.

“I’m not saying we are going to be world champions any time soon, but I do believe if we continue this way then we have a good chance of progressing.”

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.