FEBRUARY 27, 2014
107% qualifying rule is F1's next hurdle
Formula one's next challenge will be putting together a full grid for the opening races of 2014.
As teams grapple with the technological revolution of the all-new V6 era amid severely tight testing restrictions, it emerged after the recent Bahrain test that many 2014 cars - notably the Red Bull of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel - might struggle simply to qualify for grands prix.
Indeed, according to F1's 107 percent 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.
"There can be exceptions (to the rule), this is true as we have seen in past seasons," former F1 team owner and boss Gian Carlo Minardi told his website.
"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 Dr Helmut Marko said in the German press this week. "We stand with Renault to solve the problems."
Former F1 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 F1 media analyst Gary Anderson.
"They (Red Bull) haven't left any room for manoeuvre," he is quoted by the Telegraph, accusing Red Bull of being too extreme with the design of the troubled RB10.
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 one," he added.
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