Coyne announces Justin Wilson contract extension

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Dale Coyne Racing celebrates its 30th year in the IZOD IndyCar Series this season, and announced Friday it has locked up one of its drivers to a rare long-term contract.

The team and driver Justin Wilson announced a three-year extension, while also confirming Wilson’s part-time teammate Ana Beatriz for St. Petersburg, Brazil, Indianapolis, and “select other races.”

“In evaluating Dale’s commitment to the sport, we have signed a long-term agreement,” Wilson said, whose three-year contract also comes with options. “We had a great season last year highlighted by our first win at an oval track in Texas. The entire team’s back, so I am expecting good things to happen.”

As for Wilson’s younger brother, Stefan, plans are developing for the 23-year-old to make his debut at Barber next race. He is again in the paddock this weekend.

Justin Wilson has switched from the No. 18 back to 19 this season, a number he has raced with only once previously for Coyne. That came in his team debut at St. Petersburg in 2009, when he finished third. He switched to 18 for use the remainder of that year and also last year.

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.”