The FIA will debut a new starting light arrangement in the Australian Grand Prix, in response to fears of potential visibility issues caused by Formula 1's new halo cockpit protection device.
F1 drivers will be allowed to do practice starts at the end of FP1 and FP2 on Friday so that they can view the new start light set-up.
Concerns about restricted visibility have led the FIA race director Charlie Whiting to fit a second set of lights which are lower and located five metres beyond the main lights, to help those at the front of the grid who might be hampered by the halo. In Melbourne, these are offset to the left.
Previously this second set was located halfway down the grid to give drivers further back in the field a better chance of seeing the lights, but the FIA feels that it now has a better use at the front.
There is now also a standard height for the main lights, so circuits have to construct a gantry at that height.
“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable and things like that,” said Whiting.
“With the halo what we’ve asked every circuit to do is to make the lights at a standard height above the track. 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’s 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 [the track].
“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.”