Webber holds his tongue over latest F1 row

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Normally outspoken Red Bull driver Mark Webber held back when asked to comment on F1’s latest row over tires.

Webber, who announced over the weekend he will retire from F1 at the end of the year, finished second in a race which saw a spate of high-speed tire failures.

Asked about his view on driving in such risky circumstances, he said: “Well the team are trying to keep us up to date as best they can.”

“Obviously it’s a little bit of a moving target for them as well. They are doing their job to inform us as much as they can. It’s not a slow circuit, it’s very quick, we’re committed to the high-speed stuff here, 100 per cent most of the time.”

“It’s not December yet, so I’ll stay quiet,” he added.

Webber did say the drivers have had difficulty getting the sport’s governing body to listen to their views: “I think we’ve been trying to have input for the last three years and it’s deaf ears.”

“Anyway, we’re part of the package, part of the show. The show goes on by the looks of it.”

The Red Bull driver admitted he did adjust his driving line to avoid some of the curbs that were suspected of contributing to the tire failures:

“You want to still push as hard as possible but you have to check your line a bit, change your trajectory, the radius is tighter, obviously, in certain corners, i.e. the quick stuff, Copse, Stowe, turn one, staying away from there.

“It turns out maybe it wasn’t really the curbs, who knows but it’s just better to factor in everything that you possibly can.”

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.