Button happy with McLaren improvement

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Jenson Button is pleased to have qualified in the top ten for the Malaysian Grand Prix, and he feels that McLaren has made a big step forward since Australia.

The team struggled at the last race, scoring just two points and Button expressed the need to work hard on improving the car. After qualifying in Malaysia, he told Adam Cooper how he could feel the difference in the car.

“Forgetting the wet conditions, I think we’ve improved from Australia.

“If you look through qualifying, in Q1 and Q2 on dry tires, we were more competitive. Still nowhere near the top, but we were more competitive, and we should be very happy with what we’ve achieved so far this weekend. It’s only five days after a pretty tough race for us, so we’re making progress. And that’s very positive.”

Button was joined in the final qualifying session by teammate Sergio Perez, but the team struggled to match the front runners in the rain and subsequently qualified in 8th and 10th. Despite lining up P8, Button is looking forward to the race tomorrow relying it does not rain.

“I struggled with lack of grip in high speed at the rear, lots of rear movement. Most of the time our car has been very good in the wet, but today it isn’t.

“We’ve got a bit of work to do, and we lucked in with the rain in Q2 at the end, but tomorrow we’re looking forward to the race. I wasn’t really looking forward to the race in Melbourne.”

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.”