FIA stewards will be lenient with regards to cars qualifying outside of the 107 percent rule, ensuring a full 22-car grid is likely to start the Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
Following the wide range of times covering the field in pre-season testing, as teams struggle get on top of the new 2014 turbocharged engines, there have been concerns whether all drivers can achieve times within the 107 percent of pole position.
Race director Charlie Whiting held his annual press conference to clarify the 2014 rules, where he revealed stewards will be more sympathetic with regards to the 107 percent ruling.
Previously cars that had qualified outside of the ruling were only allowed to start the race if they had shown enough pace in practice.
“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 in front of assembled media.
“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.”
While the ruling is set to be relaxed, if a car fails to set a time deemed fast enough by the FIA in practice, stewards will have a call to make as to whether the car can start Sunday’s race.
“It will be the stewards who decide,” Whiting added.
“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.”
The FIA also ratified changes made to the qualifying procedure that will see Q3 extended from 10 to 12 minutes.
*See below for the comprehensive Speedcafe.com F1 guide to the Australian Grand Prix