Webber expects Vettel to match Schumacher’s seven titles


Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel may not have been the best of friends in their five years as team mates at Red Bull, but Webber showed his respect for his team mate’s abilities in a recent interview.

Webber told the Daily Mail he expects Vettel to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of winning seven world championship titles.

“Seb’s phenomenal, a very tough act,” said Webber. “I think he will reach Michael Schumacher’s total of seven championships, no problem.”

Vettel’s success is not just down to the strength of Red Bull’s cars in recent seasons, Webber added. “Seb has won a lot of races when the car has been good, but he has also won a lot when the car hasn’t been good.

“Seb is like Alain Prost, but with a qualifying lap at his fingertips. Impressive. Also, he hardly ever makes a mistake. It’s not all the car.”

“It’s been fascinating for me to be in the boxing ring with him. I will look back at that and, realize you have understood a lot about yourself from what went on. It was a big juicy part of Formula One.”

Webber has had a tough time alongside Vettel this year, being out-qualified 15 times to 2 and has not finished ahead of Vettel in any of the 13 races where both have seen the checkered flag. That includes the contentious Malaysian Grand Prix where Vettel ignored a late-race team order to finish behind Webber.

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.”