Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will start the Hungarian Grand Prix from third and fourth on the grid as planned after their second row spot was threatened by a regulation technicality stemming from several drivers' failure to complete a lap time within the 107 per cent rule in Q1.
In a contentious qualifying session characterised by four red flag periods in a Q1 session that lasted almost 70mins, the stoppages on a constantly evolving circuit created a wide disparity in the final lap times when it was eventually concluded.
With Rio Haryanto's crash causing the session to be ended with 1min 18secs on the clock – with several drivers in the midst of their best laps – 17secs would cover the fastest time of Nico Rosberg (1min 33.302s) and Haryanto (1min 50.189s)
In all, 11 drivers failed to meet the 107 per cent criteria in Q1 – Ricciardo, Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas, Jolyon Palmer, Felipe Massa, Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Marcus Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein and Haryanto.
The failure to qualify in Q1, where the 107 per cent rule applies, essentially activates a regulation that states all teams affected must 'apply to start' with the FIA. If this is enforced across the affected drivers, they are effectively excluded from qualifying.
However, after a lengthy debate several hours after qualifying, the decision was taken to only enforce the 107 per cent ruling to the six drivers that failed to make it through to Q1 – Palmer, Massa, Magnussen, Ericsson, Wehrlein and Haryanto – activating a rule that states they take their FP3 times instead. As such, they line up on the grid in the order they finished FP3, which coincidentally is the same order as they finished qualifying.
By contrast, the 'exceptional circumstances' of an unusual qualifying session means the FIA will not enforce the same ruling for those who reached Q2 and beyond, therefore allowing them to keep their results.
Though there was speculation of a protest that could be submitted by a team that stood to gain from the multiple demotions – namely Ferrari and McLaren -, the FIA confirmed no appeal could be lodged.
The final grid will be confirmed two hours before the race.