http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/107%25_... F1 1007% Rule has a long history. It has appeared and disappeared. In 2011 it returned but seemed to have no teeth as race stewards regularly waved its enforcement. After a year of teething the 2012 rule has some teeth.
FIA 2012 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations article 36 deals with the starting grid
During Q1, any driver whose best qualifying lap exceeds 107% of the fastest time set during that session, or who fails to set a time, will not be allowed to take part in the race. Under exceptional circumstances however, which may include setting a suitable lap time in a free practice session, the stewards may permit the car to start the race.
Should there be more than one driver accepted in this manner, the grid order will be determined by the stewards.
HRT drivers, in 2011, failed to make the cut 10 times in 6 of the season's events. A 'teething' rule and support from FOTA led race stewards to be accommodating. 2012 is starting differently. HRT is the first team to feel the bite of Rule 36.1. Australian GP race stewards decided to enforce the rule and eliminate HRT from the grid for post Q1 times exceeding the 107% time during that session. During the three practice sessions neither HRT driver posted a practice time close to the cut off time thus taking away to most obvious out for stewards to allow them in. At least as I post this.
No doubt there is a good bit of lobbying stewards, organizers and other teams going on as I bang away at the keyboard. If I have Mickey's hands spinning properly on my clock, under rule 36.3, the stewards have until 8PM eastern time before they must post the official grid. Lacking an organized FOTA group and given the abysmal practice times HRT posted it would be a difficult case for the best K Street lobbyist to make.
Formula 1 has an amazing capacity to create strange situations that put the spirit and letter of its sporting regulations at odds. Rule 36.1 enforcement will be a story line to follow throughout the season for more that 107% failures.
How will the 2012 addition of the above underlined portion ÔÇ£or fails to set a qualifying timeÔÇØ is enforced? 2011 saw 8 cases of drivers not posting any time in Q1. Along with HRT and Virgin teams such as Mercedes, Lotus and Williams failed to post times for both their drivers in Q1. Crashes or catastrophic failures caused most but in at least one case a bit of rules gamesmanship was suspected. Thus the caveat was added to the 2012 rule.
Beyond grid position or lack thereof other issues may become contentious. Money is the most obvious. How many cars on the racing grid are required by Bernie's contracts with tracks? How much money will be spent on violating teams transporting them to distant tracks? Will struggling teams be able to find and keep sponsor dollars if there is no air time for their moving billboards, known as race cars, on Sunday. How will rule 36.1 impact a very fractured FOTA or any team/driver association? How may a owners group address it as part of discussions to take an ownership stake in the series?
Shakespeare would have great sport with the plots and subplots that can be spun from the 2012 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations. The question he would face, and in the end Formula 1 must face, is how many times and in how many ways can you kill HRT in act one and keep them in the cast of characters?