Some teams will struggle to qualify in Melbourne if 107% rule is implemented

Will all 22 cars line up on the Melbourne grid for this year's Australian GP

Will all 22 cars line up on the Melbourne grid for this year’s Australian GP

Formula 1’s next challenge will be getting together a full grid for the opening races of 2014 Formula 1 World Championship season, as predictions are that some teams will struggle to qualify within the 107 per cent rule.

As teams grapple with the technological revolution of the all-new V6 Power Units amid severely tight testing restrictions, it emerged after the recent Bahrain test that many 2014 cars – notably the Red Bull of reigning F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel – might struggle simply to qualify for grands prix.

Indeed, according to Formula 1’s 107 per cent qualifying rule, only 14 of the sport’s 22 cars would have been quick enough to race had Nico Rosberg’s best time in Bahrain last week actually been an official pole lap.

Daniel Ricciardo with the stricken Red Bull RB10 on day three at Jerez

Daniel Ricciardo with the stricken Red Bull RB10 on day three at Jerez

“There can be exceptions [to the rule], this is true as we have seen in past seasons,” ex Formula 1 team owner and boss Gian Carlo Minardi has said.

“But you must at least have done a time in practice within the 107 per cent. The reality today is that cars are struggling just to do a handful of laps consecutively,” said the Italian.

The most stark problems are being suffered by Red Bull and Renault; the title-winning combination in the last four years of the now-historic V8 era.

“We are working day and night,” Red Bull’s Helmut Marko said in the German press this week. “We stand with Renault to solve the problems.”

Renault V6 Turbo badge

Will Renault sort out the problems with their V6 turbo F1 engine before Melbourne?

Ex Formula 1 driver Mika Salo tipped Renault to work it out.

“I believe an organisation of the size of Renault – a car and engine manufacturer – to sort this problem out very quickly,” he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

Red Bull designer Adrian Newey, however, must also take the blame, according to former Technical Director and now Formula 1 media analyst Gary Anderson.

“[Red Bull] haven’t left any room to manoeuvre,” he is quoted by the Telegraph, accusing Red Bull of being too extreme with the design of the troubled RB10.

Caterham also struggling

Caterham also struggling

But if the might of big-spending world champions Red Bull can ultimately emerge from the crisis, what of a similarly Renault-powered backmarker like Caterham?

Team driver Kamui Kobayashi is openly troubled.

“We are not able to race,” the Japanese is quoted by Spain’s El Confidencial. “But if we were, I think we should use a GP2 car, as we would be faster.

“At this point, if we were to race…I don’t think this is Formula 1,” he added.

Speaking to Speedweek, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost said, “It is difficult to assess the performance of the car. We hardly know how the car handles, because we have done so few laps. Both the reliability and performance represent two unknowns.” (GMM)

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  • SpeedoReido

    I do not agree with this rediculous restricted testing rule. First, in the name of safety for the drivers and the fans. Secondly, I don’t think it helps the smaller teams as they are the ones who MOST need more testing time to develop. The FIA and the FOM have gutted this sport in the name of cost cutting, and what have achieved? Monstrous increased costs of continually redeveloping everything with no real world testing. Please, open this sport back up and watch it fly! What we’re seeing here is simply enormously expensive Indycars.

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    The FIA should’ve allowed WAY more days of testing, especially for such a complicated engine and totally new engine. Stupidity runs rampant at the FIA though, so it’s no surprise.

  • Tamburello1994

    I was thinking this also. Seems like a no-brainer to me. The FIA should have anticipated some of these teething issues out of the box and allotted more time. They’ve got no one to blame but themselves if these initial races turn into DNF derbies.

  • BK201

    It looks like some teams may struggle to make it to the starting grid. But on top of that many teams are going to struggle to make it to the finish line. We’ll probably see some races early this season where as few as half a dozen cars complete the race distance.

    As people are saying, the FIA should have allowed much more testing time for a brand new and very complicated engine. If the early races are the disaster they are shaping up to be the FIA may have to schedule some additional “special emergency testing sessions” to iron out the worst of the problems.

  • Awang Selamat Karim

    The FIA should have allowed more testing since the engine is completely new. It’s not like 2012 and over to 2013 where you can use basically the same car. It’s new, complicated, hence needs more time to develop on the track. If their intention was to make RBR suffer (and not being able to dominate anymore) well good job… you made other teams suffer too. And you expect it to be “tight”.

  • RBC

    It’s not the testing that is the issue. Renault were too stupid to bolt their entire engine together on the dyno and see how it worked as a single unit. They just tested the parts separately. Ferrari had their engine running in a mule car to make sure it worked as a unit, as they were allowed to do by the rules. Renault were lazy and arrogant and they deserve to suffer. Merc and Ferrari had no issues getting it together.