Pippa Mann confirms Indy 500 return with Dale Coyne Racing

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The Indianapolis 500 confirmed driver/car count has grown by one, as Pippa Mann confirmed she will attempt to qualify for this year’s race with Dale Coyne Racing.

Mann, who qualified for her only prior 500 appearance in 2011, joins the DCR team as a third driver alongside teammates Justin Wilson and Ana Beatriz.

“I’m delighted to be able to share this news!” she said in a release. “I actually first met Dale several years ago, before I came to the U.S., at what turned out to be the final Champ Car test at Sebring right before the open wheel merger. We’ve sort of had an on-going conversation ever since then, and I actually got very close to getting in one of Dale’s cars on Bump Day last year. A year later, we’ve now put this program together, and I cannot wait to be back on track with Honda and running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.”

Coyne, an IndyCar team owner for 30 years but notorious for his delays in making driver announcements, weighed in on the move.

“We have known and followed Pippa from her first interest in coming over to America and the IndyCar series,” Coyne said. “Her hard work and dedication are commendable and have shown results. She has qualified for Indy, qualified on pole at Indianapolis for the Indy Lights race, won an Indy Lights race at Kentucky and has been a great asset for the sport.”

Further details to the entry – car number, sponsors and notable crewmembers – will be announced at a later date.

The confirmation brings the number of driver/car combinations to 31 for this year’s race, with two more to go before a full field of 33 is achieved.

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.”