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Whiting refuses request for grid practice starts
Thursday 22nd August 2013, 17:44 by TF1T Staff
© Marc Priestley / The F1 Times
The FIA's technical delegate Charlie Whiting has refused a request from several drivers during their meeting on Thursday in which they asked for permission to practice their starts on the grid.
The reason for the request stems from changes to the grid which sees the first 11 slots featuring 'drainage grooves' which was highlighted by several drivers during Thursday's track walk.
Positions 12 to 22 don't feature the grooves and therefore may be at a disadvantage should it rain on Sunday, or an advantage should it remain dry, as the contact patch is greater allowing for better grip.
Jean-Eric Vergne, when asked by The F1 Times whether he intended to raise the matter with Whiting, confirmed he would.
"We had a meeting just before the press conference and we were discussing it," he said. "I think we will probably bring it up during the drivers’ briefing or team managers’ briefing to try and ask if we can have a practice start to see if there is a difference or not."
Whiting is however reluctant to amend the rules for this weekend, which stipulate that practice starts must be performed at the end of the pitlane.
He reportedly sites the fact that there are already differences between the practice start area, which is on a considerable downward gradient, to the actual grid and the fact that any practice starts on Friday in the dry would be negated if the expected rain comes on Sunday.
Sebastian Vettel, in response to our question, played down the difference between the two surfaces.
"We've talked about it, we don't know the difference because we've never had starts on that kind of surface.
"I don't expect it to be a big difference. Obviously I think we are not allowed – at the moment, at least – doing any practice starts. Maybe that will change, to have a look for all the teams.
"If it's wet, it's better, if it's wet for all of us for sure, but I think that's the reason why they did it. Like I said, no experience so we don't know."
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