Historical impact of proposed 107% rule

Here are the results of my research as to how the "107% rule" would have affected the World Championship over the last seven years, using the Grand Prix of France as an example. In 1989 and 1990, the race was held at the Circuit Paul Ricard at...

Here are the results of my research as to how the "107% rule" would have affected the World Championship over the last seven years, using the Grand Prix of France as an example.

In 1989 and 1990, the race was held at the Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet before moving to the current site, Circuit de Nevers, Magny-Cours, host for the following five years.

I use the French GP as an example not only because it is the current event, but also because I think the two circuits have/had a bit of everything: fast straights, fast bends, slow corners, etc. The two circuits were also close in length, with roughly 0.3-miles being the difference (I do not want to get into details of track lengths as they changed slightly over the years).

The Results:

The 1989 Grand Prix of France saw 39 cars entered (yes, it is true!). Alain Prost won the pole with a time of 1m07.203-seconds in a McLaren-Honda. A total of 35 of 39 cars were within 107% of Alain's time, five of which failed to pre-qualify.

For the 1990 event, Nigel Mansell took pole in a Ferrari with a time of 1m04.402s. That year, 31 of 35 cars were within 107% of the pole time, with only one being a failed pre-qualifier.

In 1991, Riccardo Patrese went 'round in a Williams-Renault at 1m14.559s, That year only 26 of 34 cars would have been with 107% of Patrese time, making a perfect example for the FIA.

The example was repeated in 1992 when 26 of 30 cars were within 107%. of Nigel Mansell's at 1m13.864s in a Williams-Renault. Damon Hill was the 30th, in the Brabham-Judd.

Damon Hill went from worst to first in 1993, bringing a Williams-Renault to the pole at 1m14.382. That year only 26 cars were entered, and three less (23) would have made the show if the 107% qualifying rule was in place. For the record, 26th qualifier Michele Alboreto was not allowed to start the race because of an FIA rule that said, if 26 cars or less are entered, one-less than that number will start the race.

In the tragic year that was 1994, Damon Hill won his second consecutive pole for the Grand Prix of France at 1m16.282s, again in a Williams-Renault. That year the number of entries rose by two to 28 and 26 started the race. One less (25), would have started under the 107% rule.

Finally we come to 1995. With the race just seven hours away as I finish this report, Damon Hill has made it three-in-a-row for himself and four consecutive poles for Williams-Renault, with a lap at 1m17.225s. Just 24 cars are entered, and four would miss the cut if the 107% rule was in effect.

As is probably case of many reading this, I am not sure whether the FIA would like to increase the competition down through the ranks or just get the slower cars off the track and out harms way. I am in favor of the rule, personally, but only if the FIA can leave the current rules as they are. Nothing hurts the smaller teams more than to keep changing the rules.

by Robert Heathcote, for SpeedNet

----------------------------------------------------------------------- Data for this report was accumulated for 1989-1994 via "On Track Magazine" (Volumes 9-14, issues #14). Qualifying results for the 1995 GP of France are courtesy of "RaceFax," and Forrest K. Bond.

--- SpeedNet: Motorsports at the speed of thought (AUTOSPORTS BBS 310-641-9627)

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nigel Mansell , Alain Prost , Riccardo Patrese , Damon Hill , Michele Alboreto
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams