FIA tweak start light position to compensate for halo
It’s the biggest visual change to the cars this year, but halo’s impact is not simply an aesthetic one...
The new-for-2018 cockpit protection device has also inspired changes to the circuits, with the FIA adjusting the start light gantry in Melbourne to allay any concerns surrounding visibility.
Some drivers had expressed doubt over whether the introduction of the halo would make seeing the start lights more difficult, depending on where they were on the grid.
With this in mind, the FIA have reduced the height of the main set of lights at Albert Park – and instructed the rest of the circuits on this year’s calendar to follow suit.
They have also moved the second set of lights, which were previously positioned around the middle of the grid, to aid the driver on pole – as that, somewhat ironically, seems to be the most affected position given the angle.
"With the halo what we've asked every circuit to do is to make the lights at a standard height above the track," said the FIA’s F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting. "We've also put a repeat set of lights, in this case off to the left, over the verge.
"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.
"Some drivers complained about not being able to see the main start lights, so that is when we introduced an extra set. But now the wings have been lowered, there's no need for those halfway up the grid so I've decided to utilise them somewhere else.
"Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo there - 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.
"But then he's got a repeat set of lights which are five metres further down."
Drivers will trial the new set-up with practice starts at the end of both Friday practice sessions.
"We haven't normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it's quite a tight timetable and things like that," said Whiting.
"What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights rather than have them look at them for the first time on Sunday evening."
The start light tweaks are not the only circuit changes made by the FIA in Melbourne. The governing body also added a third DRS zone to the Albert Park layout to improve drivers' chances of overtaking.