After only five races so far this season, Verizon IndyCar Series team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has today confirmed that they have split with race engineer Leena Gade. The team stated that their partnership with Gade was not working “for either party” before going on to wish Gade luck in her future endeavours.
It was announced back in January that Gade, known for her previous work at Audi Sport in the World Endurance Championship, would take the plunge by joining Schmidt Peterson as James Hinchcliffe‘s race engineer for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series.
At the time of her appointment to the team, Gade – who oversaw three victories at the 24 hours of Le Mans – stated that whilst IndyCar was a totally different challenge to what she had done before in WEC, she was looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m quite honoured to be given the chance,” Gade said back in January, “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-.”
However, after only five races working for the team, it was announced today that the partnership between Gade and SPM had come to an end, with both parties stating that had both agreed that things were not working out the way that they had hoped.
“After many ongoing conversations and the decision that the relationship was not conducive for either party, the agreement was made to part ways with one of our lead race engineers, Leena Gade,” SPM told Autosport in a statement, “Everyone at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports wishes nothing but the absolute best for Leena.”
The specific reasons for the split between Gade and SPM have not been confirmed, although rumours have suggested that, whilst road course and street events were fine, the oval races were proving to be difficult for Gade to get to grips with from a race engineer’s standpoint. This follows reports of Gade being visibly frustrated on the pit-wall during the 2018 Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway last month.
Again, this has not been confirmed by Gade or the team, but if these oval difficulties were to be true, it could have been very tough to deal with; especially as six of the seventeen races on the current IndyCar calendar are held on ovals.
Gade, herself, would add her own comment to the statement provided to Autosport earlier today, where she thanked the team for the opportunity, despite how brief her time was, before going on to wish them luck for the rest of the year.
“It’s been an honour to work with the guys and girls in the Verizon IndyCar Series and especially all members of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports,” Gade said, “The team at SPM are a dedicated bunch of incredibly motivated and talented individuals. With our different backgrounds in motorsport, it was like two differing worlds working towards the creation of a strong base for a young, dynamic team, and in this situation, the two worlds didn’t quite work out.
“I wish everyone at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports the very best in all their endeavours and for success this season at both the Indy 500 and in the championship. It has been a privilege to work with everyone at this team.”
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will be in action this weekend for the biggest race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Robert Wickens and Jay Howard will be on-track for the team, with James Hinchcliffe watching from the sidelines after failing to qualify last weekend. Hinchcliffe will be back behind the wheel the following weekend at the Duel in Detroit.