FIA stewards have decreed that Hispania Racing (HRT) pairing Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan will not be permitted to compete in Sunday's F1 2011 curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, after both predictably failed to get to within 107 per cent of the pole position time during opening qualifying Down Under.
Following a late debut and a bizarre customs issue, neither of the two HRT F111s had run at all prior to arriving at Albert Park, and that situation did not change any on Friday, save for a solitary installation lap for Liuzzi in FP2. In FP3 on Saturday morning, only Karthikeyan was able to complete a lap after his team-mate broke down early on, but with the Indian languishing a staggering 17 seconds shy of the outright pace, it was little surprise to see neither driver make the grade during Q1.
Indeed, Liuzzi – whose car at one stage began disassembling itself – was more than two seconds adrift of the next-slowest driver in the session, Virgin Racing rookie Jérôme d'Ambrosio, who himself only narrowly snuck in under the limit. With Karthikeyan another 1.3 seconds in arrears again, stewards agreed that in this case, there were no 'exceptional circumstances' by which they should waive the 107 per cent rule and give Hispania dispensation to race.
“The 107 per cent is a maximum – there's no tolerance around that 107 per cent,” FIA chief technical delegate Charlie Whiting told SPEED.com
. “If you're out, you're out. However, there is provision in the rule for the stewards to allow a car in under exceptional circumstances, which could include setting a good time in a previous session, or if there were changeable weather conditions that clearly disadvantaged some cars that couldn't get out at the beginning when it was dry.
“Those sorts of things, or generally speaking if a car's done a good time in FP3, for example, and has a mechanical problem and can't do a clear lap – we've seen it all before. Then the stewards are probably likely to allow the car to start. I personally don't believe that's the case with HRT.”