Coulthard: Hamilton can win with Mercedes

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Former Formula One driver David Coulthard has given Lewis Hamilton his support for the coming season, believing that his compatriot can succeed with Mercedes.

Hamilton has received some criticism after leaving McLaren for a team with just one race win since their return to the sport in 2010, but former Red Bull driver Coulthard believes the Mercedes racer will still be competitive.

“Yes, of course he can win. That team has wins in its DNA and won the championship in its Brawn guise.

“It will be the making of him as a man and a racer because you do need different experiences and environments to really develop as an individual. He can reset everything going to Mercedes because he is not Lewis the teenager, happy to be there and desperate to be a F1 driver.”

Coulthard also spoke about Hamilton’s reputation in an interview during the BBC’s 2013 F1 launch, comparing it to when he first entered the sport in 2007.

“He is an existing world champion and goes there as such and will build new relationships. They see the Lewis of today rather than the Lewis as a young kid who should be grateful for the opportunity.”

Hamilton has been quick to write off his chances in 2013, believing it would take a year before both he and teammate Nico Rosberg could compete for race wins. However, following an impressive showing in winter testing, Mercedes are favorites to win the first race in Australia. The unpredictable opening Grand Prix could give many teams a chance of winning, and Coulthard was quick to point this out.

“It is always unpredictable in Melbourne. We do get some mixed results there. But that said, it is not a slow car that wins the race.”

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”