What Is 107% Rule?
“Any driver whose best qualifying lap exceeds 107% of the pole position time will not be allowed to start, save for exceptional circumstances accepted as such by the stewards of the Event. Should there be more than one driver accepted in this manner, their order will be determined by the stewards.”
–The 107% rule as expressed in Article 134 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.
The 107% rule has existed in F1 during various periods of the sport. Introduced for the 1996 season, the 107% rule is designed to weed out the slower cars in the field. Any driver whose best qualifying time is more than 107% of the pole-sitters time in Q1, will not qualify for the race.
For example, if the pole time is 1 min 40 secs (100 seconds), then any car slower than 1 min 47 seconds (107 seconds) will not be in the race. The rule does allow for some discretion on the part of the stewards and this discretion has so far been exercised just once for Pedro Diniz at Melbourne ’97.
The 107% rule was introduced for the 1995 season for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but could not gain the support, and thus came into force in 1996 season at the Australian Grand Prix, and remained in force until 2002.
In total, there were 37 cases in which 107% rule was broken during the period in which it was a Formula One Sporting Regulation. Of these, 13 drivers were allowed to start the relevant race due to “exceptional circumstances”. The rule affected 23 out of the 116 Grand Prix in which it applied.
The qualifying system changed for the 2003 season, the governing body subsequently proposed the formal cancellation of the rule, which ceased to apply with effect from the 2002 Japanese Grand Prix season.
During the 2004 season, the system’s flaws were exposed, and proposed changes to the qualifying system. At one point seemed to suggest that the 107% rule would return as part of a new format. In the end, however, only minor changes relating to the timing of the existing sessions were made.
At the start of the 2010 season, new FIA President Jean Todt said that he was in favour of re-introducing the 107% rule, as the qualifying system has changed again so that all of the sessions are carried out with low fuel levels.
On 23 June, a meeting of the FIA World Motor Sports Council determined that the 107% rule would be reintroduced for the 2011 season. It was reintroduced for the 2011 season with minor modifications due to the knock-out qualifying format. The rule applies only to the first of the three qualifying sessions for each race.
Since its re-introduction and till the end of the 2015 season, the 107% rule has been broken a further 16 times in 11 different races.
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