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F1’s 107% rule to snub teams?

2014-02-27 11:01

TOUGH TIMES: Red Bull is one of the teams who will not meet F1's 107% rule and might not make it to the starting grid for the season opener in March. Image: AFP

LONDON, England - The threat to a successful start to the 2014 Formula 1 season just escalated with teams pointing out they might not make the '107% rule' in time to qualify for race weekend entry.

There's only a couple of weeks before the first race in Melbourne on March 16.

Teams are still grappling with the technological revolution of the all-new V6 era amid severely tight testing restrictions and it has emerged after since the recent Bahrain test earlier in February that many 2014 cars - notably the Red Bull car of reigning champion Sebastian Vettel - might struggle event to qualify to enter.

Under F1's 107% qualifying rule, only 14 of the sport's 22 cars would have been quick enough to race had Nico Rosberg's best time at the Bahrain test been an official F1 pole lap at the track.


The rule states that "during the first phase of qualifying, any driver who fails to set a lap within 107% of the fastest time in the first qualifying session will not be allowed to start the race".

Former F1 team owner Gian Carlo Minardi (now-defunct Minardi) said: "There can be exceptions (to the rule) as we have seen in past seasons but you must have done at least a time in practice within the 107%. The reality today is that cars are struggling to do a handful of consecutive laps.”

The starkest problems are being suffered by Red Bull (and its sister junior team Toro Rosso) and Renault; the title-winning combination for the previous last four years of the now-done V8 era.

Red Bull's Helmut Marko said: "We are working day and night. We stand with Renault to solve the problems."


Former F1 driver Mika Salo tipped Renault to work it out. He told Finnish broadcaster MTV3: "I believe an organisation such as Renault - a car and engine manufacturer - can sort this problem out very quickly."

Red Bull designer Adrian Newey, however, must also take the blame, says former technical director and now F1 media analyst Gary Anderson. He was quoted by the UK's The Telegraph as accusing Red Bull of being too extreme with the design of the troubled RB10. Anderson said: "Red Bull hasn't left any room for manoeuvre."

The might of big-spending Red Bull should ultimately emerge from the crisis but what of a similarly Renault-powered back-marker such as Caterham? Team driver Kamui Kobayashi was openly troubled.

He told Spain’s El Confidencial: "We are not able to race but if we were I think we should use a GP2 car - we would be faster. At this point, if we were to race... I don't think this is F1."


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