Manor Marussia’s Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens have been granted dispensation to race in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, despite failing to post a time within the 107% cut-off in the first phase of qualifying.
While Stevens was unable to take to the track due to a fuel system issue, Merhi ran wide at Turn 4 on one of his flying laps and cost himself time. The Spaniard ended up with a fastest time of 1:46.677, less than 0.4 seconds slower than the 1:46.217 needed to automatically make the cut.
His time was almost five seconds slower than the next slowest qualifier, his compatriot Fernando Alonso in the McLaren, and 7.4 seconds slower than the fastest Q1 runner, Lewis Hamilton, who posted a 1:39.269.
The FIA Stewards have, however, allowed both drivers to take the start for Sunday’s 56-lap race after the were able to demonstrate they had lapped within the 107% cut-off in the preceding practice sessions earlier in the weekend.
The newly re-formed team was unable to participate in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix when it could not send its two cars out on track thanks to recurrent software issues that prevented the Ferrari-powered MR03s from being fired up.
Introduced in 1996 – and running until 2002, before being reinstated in 2011 – the 107% rule is designed to prevent cars and drivers from participating in the event they are found to be consistently and significantly slower than the frontrunners.
Image via XPB Images