Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Start lights moved following Halo visibility concerns

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Start lights are being re-positioned at F1 circuits this year following concerns the Halo will prevent drivers being able to see them clearly.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting said drivers would be allowed to perform practice starts on the grid instead of the pit lane at Melbourne to give them experience of the new arrangement.

“With the Halo what we’ve asked every circuit to do is make the lights at a standard height above the track,” he said. “We’ve also put a repeat set of lights, in this case off to the left.”

Sebastian Vettel, Christian Horner, Albert Park, 2018
2018 Australian Grand Prix build-up in pictures
“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid. They were fitted around about 2009 when the rear wings became higher on the cars, some drivers complained about not being able to see the main start lights. That’s when we introduced an extra set.

“Now the rear wings have been lowered [in 2017] there’s no need for those halfway up the grid so I’ve decided to utilise them somewhere else. So if a driver, for example, is in pole position – and pole position appears to be the worst-case scenario with the Halo – maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights or can only see half of them without moving his head too much, he’s then got a repeat set of lights further down the track.

“So what I think it would be a good idea to do it give drivers sight of those lights rather than have them look at them for the first time on Sunday evening.”

Whiting also dismissed concerns about the amount of smoke produced by some cars, particularly the Ferrari, affecting visibility at race starts.

“I don’t think there’s any reason to suppose the smoke you [seen] in a couple of garages in Barcelona is going to be like that here,” he said. “Certainly not at the grid, anyway.”

“Last year there were a couple of cars which seemed to belch out a lot of smoke when they started in the garage but it seldom manifested itself on the grid.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Start lights moved following Halo visibility concerns”

  1. You just could not make this up.

    I mean really – no one thought of this?

    1. Err, yes, they did. Which is why measures are being taken. I wonder how you’ve reached that conclusion.

      1. Because this has been posted 1 day before the season starts again?

  2. Problem solved – put 5 lights into the cockpit which are likned to the start procedure.

  3. Here’s a crazy suggestion:
    Align the start lights vertically.

    1. Here’s a not so crazy idea. Make them appear on the dash. It’s just a matter of dealing with the lag.

      1. Pretty difficult I’d have guessed and you know for sure it wont always runs smoothly and even a teeny tiniest delay will have the teams in uproar. Then you’ll have “Lightgate” where by something will go wrong at a very “convenient time”

    2. I have better Idea! Put them on halo!

  4. If they want to increase randomness they might as whel leave them like they are. The pole sitter missing the start is sure to bring overtaking and excitement into the first corner.

  5. Just put a tv screen in each car of the lights. Then make sure Ferrari and Mercedes see these lights just before everyone else. Or give them 4 years warning of the delay times.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      22nd March 2018, 13:41

      just a few little LEDs indicating the lights would do the job. If there was some reliable way of getting these to work reliably, that may work out.

      1. Great idea!

        I suppose the reason for not doing this before was because you don’t want 20 drivers with their feet on the pedals of these ridiculous beast.. looking down into the dash.. the amount of time it takes the eye to refocus may mean that they have already driven into the back of a stalled car, for example.

        Maybe a band of LEDs on the inside of the Halo, that way their eyes could be focused ahead while still observing the lights.

  6. Why not utlise the halo. Insert LED lights on the inside edge that could be used for race starts and also indicate yellow flagged areas and other warnings?

    1. @davidb1970 Maybe it’d be distracting? Since the eyes would be focused for long sight (which also why the bridge in the middle wouldn’t be that distracting – like you don’t really notice your nose even though you could see it) a light source could potentially very distracting. Also actually there already lights in the steering wheel that corresponds to the flag on the track.

      1. @sonicslv I know where you are coming from regarding the center support structure of the halo becoming “invisible”. But not sure if it would be too much of an issue on the the actual halo. The drivers are looking up to see the start lights. there would also be no issues of the drivers claiming they couldn’t see the start lights. as you say they have lights on the steering wheel for track flags so I don’t really see an issue with moving them up. If you think about where our rear view mirrors are in our own cars, we have to look slightly up and away from the road to use them. i believe it is something the drivers would adjust to quite quickly and in the case of flags would draw there attention quite quickly. mind you I wouldn’t be surprised to see some teams introduce this anyway.

        1. What …??? People use the rear view mirror to look behind.??

          1. @rekibsn Yes apparently so, as long as some are not too distracted by the sat nav stuck in middle of the windscreen, but that is not really something to get into on the forum :)

        2. @davidb1970 I’m only speculating here, but maybe it’s not a good idea to focused on short sight at the start when you want to be able to react quickly to pick a more advantageous lane or evading stalled car. I’d agree it’s like seeing your center rearview mirror. It won’t be distracting until at night when it reflecting a car headlight in high beam position. Which is why those mirrors has a tab to mitigate it.

          I think they could put it on halo, but it adds more complexity (at least more cabling and housing for the lights) when the halos are made by 3rd party company, also adds extra zone for driver to look at instead of road and steering wheel area.

  7. Why aren’t there start fireworks?
    And lame-throwers (those vertical torch things – an essential feature of any sports event that’s trying too hard)

    1. A machine that throws nothing but lame is literally the last thing F1 should use.

      1. Lol…true…and there’s plenty of ireworks as it is thanks, bullrog.

        1. Ireworks … Can’t believe I didn’t think of that!

  8. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    22nd March 2018, 13:22

    Visibility a problem with the Halo? Come on guys, we can see the drivers better than before and the drivers are now enjoying a full 360 view with the Halo on!

    On the bright side, Mekies has joined Ferrari so that’s 100-200 point drop right there:-) Arrivederci Arrivabene!

  9. Not really a surprise given how they were saying this last year & were also saying the same about the light system used for pit stops now.

    From what i’ve seen drivers say, The Halo doesn’t have an impact on visibility during normal driving/racing. It’s just an issue when you have to look up at the start/pit lights because that is where the Halo is at it’s thickest due to it been where the front part meets the top bar.

    1. Are you implying the start isn’t a normal part of racing? Cause that’s pretty asinine.

  10. Give the job to one of the poor grid girls that’s out of a job. She could stand in the middle of the grid in a tiny skirt and drop a handkerchief to signal the start. Fast and Furious style..

  11. Go back to getting some brave soul to stand between the rows of cars and wave the starting flag.

Comments are closed.