Formula 1’s race stewards are set to be lenient in allowing drivers who fail to set times within 107 percent of pole position to start grands prix this year.
With teams still getting to grips with the new turbo engines, there have been fears that some cars could struggle to get within the limits laid down by the regulations.
Speaking ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, F1 race director Charlie Whiting said it was unlikely that the rule would be strictly enforced because of the current situation regarding performance and reliability concerns.
In the past, teams that failed to set a good enough time in qualifying were allowed to race provided they had a fast enough lap in practice. But Whiting emphasised that the stewards did not necessarily need to see such speed prior to qualifying to allow cars to race.
“The 107 percent rule was introduced to make sure that teams that were not capable of producing a good car that was of the required performance would not get into the actual races,” said Whiting. “What we have out here are 11 teams who we know are capable, but they may be suffering a temporary performance loss.
“I am sure the stewards will look very sympathetically on any team that does not make the 107 percent. There is a mechanism within the rules to allow that to be done under exceptional circumstances. It doesn’t always have to be because a driver set a suitable time in a previous session.”
Whiting did make it clear, however, that the stewards would look at each case on an individual basis, and if a team failed to complete a lap throughout practice and qualifying it would not automatically be allowed to start the race.
“It will be the stewards who decide,” he said. “I think what we have got here is 11 very professional F1 teams and if they had that problem [of not completing a lap] I am sure there would be very good reasons for it.
“If they don’t complete any laps, the stewards might think it is a little bit too far. But that is not for me to say.
“The idea is that stewards will do everything they can to make sure that everyone will take part in the race.”