Brake problem hinders Hamilton in Q3, but he is pleased with P2

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Lewis Hamilton has ended his streak of disappointing qualifying results in Belgium today after securing second place on the grid behind his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg.

The Briton was unable to top his teammate’s time in wet conditions at the end of Q3, but this still marks his first front-row start since the Canadian Grand Prix back in June.

Speaking in the post-session FIA press conference, Hamilton revealed that he had a problem with his front-left brake during the final part of qualifying that did not help his cause.

“I had a glazed front-left brake, so the car was pulling to the left,” he explained. “There was nothing I could do on the outlap to try and get rid of that, so I was struggling under braking.

“I had to make the braking point further back, I was losing massive amounts, particularly at turn one.”

Hamilton was asked whether or not he was disappointed with the result, given that his championship rival starts just ahead of him, but the Briton said that second place may in fact be a better place to start.

“I’m not disappointed today actually,” Hamilton said. “In previous years, P2 is actually the best place to start here, so I’m quite blessed that that is the case.

“I started on pole here last year and Sebastian [Vettel] passed me along the top straight, so I think it gives you the most opportunity.”

Indeed, since the turn of the century, the race has been won just five times from pole position – a hit rate of less than 50%.

For Hamilton though, it was a good result as it brings to an end his luckless form in qualifying. He hit trouble in Q1 in Germany and Hungary, forcing him to start from the back, but he still rallied to finish in the top three. This weekend, he will start from second place and faces less of a fight to make up the deficit to Rosberg in the championship.

“I’m just happy to be up here,” Hamilton said. “I was going into qualifying not knowing if the car was going to make it through it, and I’m grateful for all of the hard work that the team put in to make sure that we had no problems.

“It’s a great feeling to be back up here.”

You can watch the Belgian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7.30am ET tomorrow.

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.”