Red Bull aero chief Prodromou to join McLaren in 2015

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McLaren have confirmed that Red Bull’s head of aerodynamics Peter Prodromou will join the team at the end of his current contract with the world champions to coincide with the return of Honda in 2015.

Prodromou has been instrumental in Red Bull’s dominance of the sport over the past four years, working with technical guru Adrian Newey at Milton Keynes. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said in Korea that the team would be announcing some “impressive” backroom signings in the coming weeks, and Prodromou appears to be the first of these.

“We do have to remember that the contract Peter has at the moment is a Red Bull contract and I have to respect that,” McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale explained to journalists in Japan. “It’s for them to talk about what his terms are and what his leave dates are.

“But in terms of our position then, yes, we have recruited Peter. We are really excited about him joining the team.”

Prodromou will return to McLaren at the end of his contract in 2015, having worked for the team between 2000 and 2005 under Newey.

McLaren have endured a difficult year in 2013 thanks to problems with the MP4-28 car, but plans are slowly coming together for the Woking-based outfit to bounce back when their new partnership with Honda begins in 2015.

Rumors continue to persist suggesting that Ross Brawn could leave Mercedes to join McLaren, but he is yet to make a final decision about his future.

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.”