Leena Gade brings an impressive resumé to IndyCar: an Ambassador for the FIA Commission for Women in Motorsport; a three-time Le Mans-winning race engineer in LMP1 with Audi; Bentley Racing engineer; now James Hinchcliffe’s race engineer at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. In addition to her impressive resumé, her trophy case includes, the FIA World Endurance Championship ‘Man of the Year’; and the C&R Racing Women in Technology award.

Gade appointment is a first for IndyCar and SPM, as the first female lead race engineer in the series.

The Briton told Motorsport that she watched and was interested in IndyCar, citing Nigel Mansell’s IndyCar stint as the primary reason.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in IndyCar.

“When I was a kid, I used to watch IndyCar, especially when Nigel Mansell first came over, and I followed it quite a lot. During my sportscar days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the US to work in it like Piers [Phillips, general manager of SPM].”

It appears that Gade’s connection with Phillips prompted the move.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community,” said Phillips.

“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.

“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.”

The former Audi engineer admits that there is a steep learning curve coming from sports cars, but she is excited.