Rosberg empowered by Schumacher departure

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Nico Rosberg says he enjoys a greater say in affairs at Mercedes following the departure of Michael Schumacher.

Lewis Hamilton replaced Schumacher as Rosberg’s team mate this year. Hamilton and Rosberg were previously team mates in karting in 2000 and 2001.

Rosberg said the team is “very” different in Schumacher’s absence.

“I now have a stronger voice,” Rosberg said, “and to me that’s a beautiful process in which I can help Mercedes become the best team.”

Rosberg and Schumacher joined the team together in 2010 – Rosberg arriving from Williams, Schumacher returning from retirement. Rosberg out-scored Schumacher in each of their three seasons as team mates, amassing 342 points to Schumacher’s 197. Rosberg also scored the team’s breakthrough victory in last year’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Rosberg, who took pole position for the last race in Bahrain, said his aim is on scoring further wins this year, admitting the title is a “big goal”.

“Now I want to win races, because success is the most fun … We want to improve ourselves – in the direction of race wins.”

New team mate Hamilton has finished on the podium twice this year while Rosberg is yet to do so. Hamilton beat Rosberg to a podium finish in Malaysia after Rosberg was ordered to stay behind the sister car in the closing stages.

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.”