Sauber’s de Silvestro signing puts its 2014 drivers on notice


Simona de Silvestro’s signing as a Sauber-affiliated driver for 2014 is already the first domino in the 2015 Formula One silly season.

Put simply, her signing puts Sauber’s two 2014 race drivers Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez already on notice.

Sutil will enter his seventh season this season and first with Sauber, Gutierrez his second. The German has been a serviceable midfielder his last three seasons with Force India, while Gutierrez showed some promise at times during his rookie campaign with Sauber this year.

The inter-team battle between these two will be fascinating to watch, because the Monisha Kaltenborn-led team has a deep pool in reserve.

If you were to make up a projected depth chart, de Silvestro would be third behind team reserve Giedo van der Garde and Russian Sergey Sirotkin, who is a confirmed test driver.

Van der Garde has the most experience in Formula One machinery and is the only one with Grands Prix under his belt. Sirotkin has the potential to bring in a Russian sponsorship package and will no doubt improve with a year’s worth of racing experience in the World Series by Renault.

Don’t underestimate the potential of Ferrari’s role in this, either. Ferrari has been a consistent partner with Sauber on-and-off since 1997 (excluding the BMW Sauber years), and de Silvestro and Ferrari have a connection from the announcement she would race in at least one weekend of the new Ferrari winter series.

If de Silvestro makes it into Formula One in 2015, she’d be the first female driver entered on a race weekend since Italian Giovanna Amati in 1992. Amati failed to qualify in her three starts for the Brabham team.

The last female driver to qualify for a Grand Prix was the late Lella Lombardi at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix; Lombardi is also the only female to score in the World Championship, with a half point achieved for sixth place in the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuich Park.

Five drivers: Lombardi, Amati, Maria Teresa de Filippis, Divina Galica and Desire Wilson, have participated in a Grand Prix weekend. Susie Wolff has also tested for Williams in recent years; the late Maria de Villota was a test driver for Marussia before her tragic 2012 accident.

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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