Magnussen scores points on mixed day for McLaren in Austria

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McLaren’s difficult 2014 campaign continued at the Austrian Grand Prix yesterday as Kevin Magnussen brought home the team’s only points in seventh place.

The Danish driver had qualified sixth, but simply did not have the pace to move up the field and fight for the bigger points. Instead, he was forced to settle for P7 come the checkered flag after being passed by Sergio Perez late on.

“I really thought we were going to finish sixth today, but Checo just had too much pace at the end of the race,” Magnussen explained after the race. “That wasn’t great, but it’s positive that we’re making improvements.

“We’ve made progress this weekend, but we still need to keep pushing: we still need to find good, efficient downforce.”

Despite the result, the rookie believes that he could not have done anything more in the race.

“Still, I think we got everything out of our package this weekend. It’s tough racing in the midfield pack, like we did today, but we’re going to get there.

“It’s maybe difficult to see it from the outside, but, believe me, we’re making improvements all the time.”

Jenson Button was less fortunate, crossing the line in 11th place. After qualifying down in 12th, he failed to make his reverse strategy work and missed out to Kimi Raikkonen at the line.

“I’d hoped we could make up some places today, but it’s never easy to overtake around here,” he explained. “We went for a different strategy – starting on primes – but it didn’t really work for us. I’m now really looking forward to Silverstone.”

The poor result, combined with Williams’ charge to third and fourth place at the Red Bull Ring, means that McLaren drops to sixth place in the constructors’, and is now the lowest ranked team to be powered by Mercedes.

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.