The last 4 drivers to lose out to the 107% rule (L-R): Sospiri, Rosset, Marques, Yoong.
In a press conference held at the Bahrain GP, FIA President Jean Todt has confirmed that he is in favour of the 107% rule returning to Formula 1 qualifying.
Between 1996 and 2002, a rule was introduced that, in order to qualify for the Sunday race, all drivers must set their fastest qualifying lap time within 107% of the pole position time. The rule was seemingly introduced on safety grounds, as the mid 1990s grids sometimes swelled to include off-the-pace pay drivers.
The rule was scrapped in 2003 with the introduction of single-lap qualifying, and has remained unused with the current knock-out qualifying system in place.
Amid some recent concerns regarding the pace of the rookie teams, Todt came out in support of the 107% rule making a return and said:
“We are very in favour of reintroducing the 107 percent limit. The reason why it was abandoned was because of the change in qualifying which was happening with fuel to start the race in the car.
"Now to change that for 2010 you need to have the unanimous agreement of the teams, and to get the unanimous agreement of the teams the FIA will be supporting this solution.
"I don’t think it will happen so we have to wait until 2011 to introduce it."
The FIA would probably need to overhaul the qualifying format and revert it to the all-out 60-minute free-for-all that used to determine the make-up of the grid in years’ past.
In spite of his desire to reintroduce the 107% rule, Todt has also made it clear that he is in favour of the new teams joining F1 and that they should be supported.
"You must have respect for a new team who is arriving in this particular economic crisis period and to invest money to be in F1," he continued. "I don’t think it is a time to criticise but to support and help, and to help them, and it is in the interests of everybody.
"Everybody in the business should be supportive of these days. I was impressed today, they did quite well.”
"Yesterday during the WMSC I asked to review the situation and that started with the introduction of a disciplinary panel which was yesterday voted at the WMSC. So … we will see what happens.
"When I said it was very disappointing, because I know that they tried hard. They made a lot of effort, as you will know [FIA technical chief] Charlie Whiting went there. He saw some possibilities, he saw some cars under construction but unfortunately it was not enough to have two cars at the start of the first grand prix."
On Stefan GP’s prospects, he added: “Stefan Grand Prix was part of the tender process. It did not get an entry and I understand that during the last months they changed their way of thinking getting into F1.
"They got involved with Toyota but we asked to [them] follow the proper process and if you want to be involved when you have a free position in the F1 championship then you have to make a tender.”
Todt also confirmed that the FIA will soon open the tender process for a thirteenth team to join the 2011 grid.