The FIA has given the green light to proposed changes to the qualifying format for the 2014 Formula One season.
Following a meeting between team leaders and the sport’s governing body during the final pre-season test in Bahrain – which we previously reported – the FIA has signed off on new rules that will aim to improve the show in the final phase of qualifying, which was plagued by limited running at a number of Grands Prix as teams sought to save tyre sets to use during the race.
The ten fastest qualifiers who make it into Q3 will now be given an extra set of Pirelli’s ‘Option’ tyre compound to use in that session only, which must be returned at the end of qualifying. Those drivers will then start the race on the same tyre set used to set their best lap time in Q2.
In addition, the lengths of the individual qualifying sessions have been adjusted: Q1 has been reduced by two minutes to 18 minutes in length, while Q3 increases to 12 minutes from its original ten in order to allow every runner the option of completing an extra run during the final phase of qualifying.
Speaking with journalists in the FIA Media Centre yesterday, FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting indicated he expected the 107% qualifying rule to be relaxed on account of the largely unknown performance differences between the teams early on in the season.
Under the current regulations, drivers would not be permitted to start the race if their fastest Q1 time did not fall within 107% of the fastest runner in the session unless they were given special dispensation to do so by the event’s stewards.
“I think the 107 per cent rule was introduced to make sure that teams that weren’t capable of producing a good car that was of the required performance wouldn’t actually get into the races,” he said yesterday.
“What we have are 11 teams that we know are capable. They may be suffering a temporary performance loss but I’m sure the stewards will look very sympathetically on any team that doesn’t make the 107 per cent [threshold].
“There is a mechanism in the rules to allow that to be done in exceptional circumstances. It doesn’t always have to be because a driver set a suitable time in a previous session.”
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