Niki Lauda on Mercedes rift: “Before we go to Canada, this will be solved”


With Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton’s relationship continuing to degenerate as they fight for the World Championship, Niki Lauda will seek to have the duo back on civil terms by the Canadian Grand Prix in two weeks.

“Before we go to Canada, this will be solved,” Lauda, Merc’s non-executive chairman and three-time World Champion, said to Britain’s Press Association.

“I will speak to them like I always do. They always call me when they have problems, so I think it will sort itself out.

“They’re not children. They’re grown-up professionals who have their difficulties, but I will help them to overcome them in a nice way and they will understand.”

Lauda is certainly no stranger to tense situations in the paddock, but in his mind, there is a need for some boundaries in Rosberg and Hamilton’s battle.

“It’s normal,” the Austrian said. “I had the same with [Alain] Prost. I hated the guy, but at least I said ‘Hello’ in the morning.

“There are certain limits – and these certain limits I can re-introduce because I speak their language, the drivers’ language – and they do understand me, they like me, and there is no issue.”

Rosberg successfully held off Hamilton last Sunday to win his second straight Monaco Grand Prix, snapping an impressive four-race winning streak by the British driver.

Hamilton seemed agitated at several points of the weekend, including qualifying, where Rosberg had an off at the Mirabeau corner that triggered the yellow flag – and kept an angry Hamilton from having one last shot at pole position.

An investigation of the incident led to no action being taken against Rosberg, who went on to win the Grand Prix from pole. On the podium, the two Merc drivers did not speak to each other.

With this in mind, Lauda, while understanding Hamilton’s frustration at finishing second, said that he didn’t appreciate him failing to at least acknowledge his German rival as the winner.

“What I did not like, and I will tell him this, is when you are up there and you don’t say ‘hello’ to your team-mate,” Lauda said. “This is not good.”

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.”