Grosjean plays down radio spat with team


Romain Grosjean played down the significance of a series of radio messages between him and Lotus during the Korean Grand Prix which culminated in team principal Eric Boullier getting involved.

Grosjean repeatedly complained to his race engineer Ayao Komatsu that he was being held up by team mate Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages of the race. Raikkonen took advantage of a mistake by Grosjean to pass him in between the two Safety Car periods.

“I am stuck behind Kimi. I cannot do anything in sector two,” said Grosjean at one point, leading Komatsu to tell Grosjean “If we want to do anything you need to overtake him.” In subsequent messages Grosjean appeared to be urging his team to tell Raikkonen to let him pass.

After several further conversations team principal Eric Boullier came on the radio to tell him to “keep racing like it is”.

Once the chequered flag had fallen another team member told GrosjeanL “We’ll talk about this in the office afterwards but for now big [censored] smile on the podium.”

After the race Grosjean played down the exchange: “Our radio is quite bad, I have to say. I don’t hear most of the conversations.”

“I just made a mistake, Kimi could go for it and the unfortunately there was a yellow flag at turn three so I couldn’t get my place back. I was quicker today but then we have rules not to fight.”

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.”