Backmarkers to struggle in qualifying as FIA revives 107% rule for 2011

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Bruno Senna would have failed to qualify in Spain by 0.01s under the 107% rule
Bruno Senna would have failed to qualify in Spain by 0.01s under the 107% rule

The FIA has announced it will bring back the ‘107% rule’ in 2011.

From next year drivers whose best times are more than 7% slower than the fastest time set in the first part of qualifying will not be allowed to start the race.

The World Motor Sports Council announced today:

From 2011, any driver whose best qualifying lap exceeds 107% of the fastest Q1 qualifying time will not be allowed to take part in the race.

Under exceptional circumstances, however, which may include setting a suitable lap time in a free practice session, the stewards may permit the car to start the race. Should there be more than one driver accepted in this manner, the grid order will be determined by the stewards.

The 107% rule was previously abolished at the end of 2002.

Had the rule as proposed been in place this year it would have prevented both HRT drivers from starting in Bahrain and Malaysia. Lucas di Grassi would have been out of the Malaysian race as well, leaving just 21 cars on the grid.

Bruno Senna would have missed out on racing at Barcelona – by just one-hundredth of a second – and Karun Chandhok wouldn’t have been on the grid at Canada last week.

All this assumes the stewards not handing out dispensations – without which Fernando Alonso would not have been able to start at Monaco either.

Read more: Why F1 doesn?t need the 107% rule

107 comments on “Backmarkers to struggle in qualifying as FIA revives 107% rule for 2011”

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  1. I’m glad they specified Q1, or else we’d see a lot of drivers being affected by weather conditions, like we seen in Malaysia this year or Monza last year.

  2. So a new team that comes in only 0.2s behind the next fastest car but is outside of 107% can’t race? And then they don’t get the data from racing, so stay behind and consistently fail to get outside of 107%. Team goes broke, people lose their jobs. Second joke announcement of the day, what’s F1 coming to?

    1. I think that is exactly the point. Luca gets what he wants, all teams applying for next year just pull out before wasting any time on this scam.

      I see no good reason for this. If they want to have a possibility to punish drivers going to slow, then do it another way with more parameters to get a permanent superlicence.

  3. aside from the fact that maybe the cars next year will be within 107%, what about the fact that there aren’t spare cars any more?..if anyone(especially a frontrunner) makes a mistake in qualifying, they’re out if they didn’t have a good enough time..but I guess that’s what all those “exceptional circumstances” are about

    I do think it’s a good rule however, despite it set to be useless at some point

  4. This is assanine. Doesnt everyone WANT 26 cars on the grid? Now they’ve made formula 1 an even more daunting task for potential new entrants. Also, I think that the new rule where the rear wings can be continuously adjusted in qualifying (also ridiculous), may widen the gap between the top teams and the backmarkers in qualifying, depending on how well they can implement such a system.

    1. They will probably not even go through the trouble of equipping it. Same for KERS. They lose only say 2 % of time, so maybe we will have only 14-18 cars racing.
      Good time for Ferrari to begin about bringing a 3rd car agaiin.

      1. More good points, BasCB. I didnt even consider the potential KERS debacle…

        And all this comes in the midst of a GREAT formula 1 season! Why must they “improve the show”?!

      2. Exactly – everyone wants 26 cars but only 20 will be fast enough, so along comes Luca on his noble ‘prancing horse’ to generously offer to fill out the grid with additional cars.

        Bernie and Jean drop to their knees and throws their hands to the heavens praising the saintly Italian on his magnificent steed. Such is their gratitude for this selfless act they gift Ferrari the opportunity to score manufacturer points on up to 4 cars, and a veto on any rules they don’t approve of, as well as the new ‘Luca says’ event at every grand prix where Di Montezemolo rides around the track on a cherry picker before the race, shouting through a loudhailer at the crowd telling them what he was thinking last night after a few glasses of wine.

        I can’t wait!

        1. Well, three car teams won’t happen. Two car teams are here to stay.

  5. I thought I would have a look at the recent article on the 1993 South African GP and see which drivers would not have qualified if this system had been in place, (hopefully my maths is correct).

    The pole time set by Prost in the Williams-Renault was 1’15.696 (75.696 seconds) so 107% of this would be 1’20.995 (80.995 seconds).

    So Barbazza in the Minardi-Ford in 24th place would have just sneaked in with 1’20.994 but the two Lola-Ferraris of Alboreto and Badoer would not have made it.

  6. This is virtually killing the new team even before it’s born as one…

    why couldn’t FIA choose which team will compete next year the same day they clarify all this rules?

  7. Stupid decision. Be prepared for a return to 20 car grids.

    Backmarkers are part of the sport, frontrunners should have to negotiate them and deal with them.

  8. people have been asking what happens if a driver spins or crashes out, the rule of if a driver sets a suitable time in practice is used already in american for Indycar.

  9. The one thing I don’t like about this is that it’s a completely random number.

    Maybe it’s needed now. We’ve always had slow cars but with GP2 cars it isn’t the same anymore as F1 cars should always be quicker. I don’t think it will make any difference though as this year’s new cars should be quicker or out of the sport and the new teams coming in aren’t under such a cloud of will-there-won’t-there be budget cap.

    1. Any number would be a random number though, if they’re going to bring in the rule they have to draw the line somewhere.

      1. Well they could have done 100%. They could have picked an actual number of seconds. I take your point but 107% is the randomest of the random

        1. They couldn’t do it as a number of seconds as tracks vary from say 1m15s at monaco to over 2 minutes. At the start of the year all of the new teams were around the 107% mark, iirc only Hispania were out of it in Bahrain, which in itself shows that it was doing it’s job (they had no testing, hadn’t even driven the car for christ’s sake).

  10. I’ve always been a mild fan of the 107% rule, unless a team really struggles with the new tyres I think it’ll go unused.

    1. As no team will now want to get the 13th spot you might be right about that.

  11. Well, if you review the failures to meet 107 %, with the sole exception of Senna at Barcelona, every one of them falls under special circumstances (crashes, rain or transmission problem), so it just shows how pointless this rule is.

  12. Jake Butler
    23rd June 2010, 19:40

    I think a 26 car grid is the minimum for a GP…as do a lot of the F1 world…at least thats what WE (the fans) want Jean-take note! Don’t do a Max-not listen and do whatever you can to **** the sport i love.

  13. HounslowBusGarage
    23rd June 2010, 19:50

    In many ways I can understand the problem caused by slower teams. Speed differential is a major problem for front runners, but that’s what blue flags are for.
    And I don’t see why the technical brilliance of one team becomes a ‘go home early’ order for another team.
    So I think I’d prefer to see a system whereby Team 13 is not penalised by the super efficient front runner team that turns up with a demon-tweak gaining it a second a lap over it’s rivals.
    Maybe, something 103.5% of the average of all Q1 times, instead of 107% of the absolute fastest.

    1. For me the whole rule is nonsense, but for getting a more reliable number making more sense, your proposal seems to be a pretty good one.

  14. Having read, and re-read the article, im not so against it. Its just Q1 times, and most of the top teams will use the harder compound tyre for this (the slower teams nearly always use softs) so it shouldnt cause too much in the way of upsets to the established teams, and “shouldnt” punish the newbies (assuming their cars are closer to the pack next season)

    If anything, we should see some much more exciting Q1 action, with drivers looking to make sure their in the 107% time. And hopefully, a more mixed grid if the newbies manage to find some more speed. The only other thing i can think of, is that more experienced F1 drivers might find employment as teams look to field drivers who will definatley find themselves qualifying, rather then a young driver with a rich backer/sponsorship who could be a liability.

    1. it’s not like the slower teams aren’t going to be going 110% in Q1 anyway attempting to hit Q2, all this rule will do is make it harder for the new teams to get any sponsorship money

  15. I think simply this is a crazy time to introduce this rule, 2012 would be better to give the new team arriving next year a chance. Not that the FIA obviously wants to do that.

    Personally scrap this rule, and the blue flags, and lets race. Backmarkers always have been a fundamental part of F1, all the best drivers had to deal with them through the ages, now ain’t any different. If Alonso et al was any good this would be a non-event.

  16. sigh, hopefully all teams are up to the 107% mark straight away next season, otherwise I’m not going to bother going to the races

  17. i have mixed feelings about this. i like the fact that entrants are required to meet a quantifiable standard for entry. however, this could be a financial back-breaker for multiple teams. it’s going to be a lot tougher to find sponsors if you can’t guarantee an appearance on race day.

    i’m not sure which would make for a better sport:

    1. 12 or 13 teams x 2 cars each, most of them with no hope of winning. despite the high level of parity presently in the sport, the majority of entrants compete for mid-pack status.

    2. 8 teams x 3 cars each, only the largest of franchises survive. sacrifice variety and character for the fastest, most expensive grid possible.

  18. We needed the 107%-rule in the first races of the present season. Next year it’ll be useless.

  19. This rule should be phased in for any new team looking to enter Formula One. Maybe 110% first year, then 107% from the second year onwards.

    If this is coming from a safety point of view, then circuits should be graded by the FIA for degree of danger to overtake a slower car. Tracks like Monaco and Canada would be grade 1; Abu Dhabi and China would be Grade 6. Then the cut off time would be 104% + Circuit Grade eg. Monaco 105%, Abu Dhabi 110%. This would save certain teams lacking sufficient pace to be locked out of all the Sundays.

    I really thought that the most obvious change to make in qualification would be the switch to 18, 15 and 12 minute sessions to allow the cars time to have two clear runs in Q3 (remember that the Bahrain lap was about 2 minutes long).

  20. They need to allow more testing for teams failing to make the 107% mark. If a team is struggling to make the time, how are they supposed to improve under the current testing restrictions? For all teams right now, especially the new teams, the best testing time they have is during the race itself.

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