F1 must avoid Indy ’05 repeat – Whitmarsh


McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says action must be taken to prevent a repeat of the multiple tire failures which blighted yesterday’s British Grand Prix.

Time is short for Formula One to take action after yesterday’s dramatic race in which four drivers suffered sudden left-rear tire failures.

Whitmarsh said teams could boycott this weekend’s German Grand Prix if a solution is not found, leading to a repeat of the circumstances of the 2005 United States Grand Prix. Only six cars started that race after fourteen runners on Michelin were forced to withdraw over safety concerns.

“What’s not what we want for Formula One,” Whitmarsh told Sky. “We have faced some of these issues before at Indianapolis and that was terrible for the sport so we have really got to work together.”

“This is not a time to point fingers, it’s time to work together, find a solution and get on with it.”

Whitmarsh expects the sport will take action in time for this weekend’s race, the first session of which takes place on Friday:

“I think something will have changed by Germany. I’m not considering [withdrawing] at the moment, it’s something all the teams and drivers will have to take a view on, but we have to support Pirelli and make sure we give them all the information and enough time to make the right decisions.”

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.”