FIA: 107% Rule is Still On for 2003

Formula One drivers will not be guaranteed a place on the starting grid next season as a result of changes in qualifying, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said.

FIA: 107% Rule is Still On for 2003

Formula One drivers will not be guaranteed a place on the starting grid next season as a result of changes in qualifying, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said.

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart suggested after changes were agreed at a meeting of the FIA's Formula One Commission on Monday that the switch to a one-lap qualifying format would mean abolition of the existing '107 percent rule'.

But an FIA spokesman said today that the rule would still apply.

In 2002, drivers had 12 laps over a one-hour session. Any driver whose fastest lap was outside 107 percent of the pole position time was excluded from the race unless there were exceptional circumstances.

Next season they will have one flying lap each in two sessions spread over two days, with Friday's times dictating the starting order for the decisive session on Saturday.

The fastest man on Friday will start last on Saturday in a measure designed to liven up the sport after a season of Ferrari domination and declining television audiences.

Minardi's Malaysian Alex Yoong failed to qualify three times this year but Stoddart maintained that it would be unfair to exclude a driver on the basis of one lap in future.

"It's gone," the Australian had told reporters when asked whether the 107 percent rule would still apply. "Imagine if you go out first thing on Saturday lunchtime, you haven't got a chance in hell. The 107 percent is dead."

Depending on weather conditions, circuits usually get faster later in qualifying sessions as the surface becomes 'grippier' due to rubber laid down by the cars' tyres.

With the 107 percent rule remaining, a driver who suffers an engine failure or accident during his one flying lap on Saturday could in theory be excluded from Sunday's race for failing to qualify inside the limit.

But race stewards are more likely to allow him to start from the back of the grid due to exceptional circumstances.

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