F1: changes to Bahrain qualifying follow McLaren’s penalty

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarTuesday, April 1st, 2008

 
 

The FIA is reportedly due to change the qualifying rules in time for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Cars that have completed their flying laps will now be required to get back to their garages within a specified time.

According to F1 website www.motorsport.com, the sport’s governing body is keen to avoid the situation that saw McLaren penalised in Malaysia – cars that have finished flying laps for times and are returning as slowly as possible to the pits to save fuel.

Cars in this position are in danger of obstructing those completing flying laps – in Malaysia it was Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso who suffered. Saving fuel has become an issue this season after the rules were changed to prevent refuelling after qualifying.

This followed dissatisfaction with drivers burning off fuel during the early stage of the final qualifying session – a practice thought to be boring for spectators as well as grist to the mill of those criticising the sport for a lack of green credentials.

An FIA spokesman said: “Our clarification to the teams and drivers will be that cars returning to the pits having completed their flying lap or laps will be required to do so within a time that we will set.

“This could be approximately 120 per cent of the normal time as we do to prevent drivers going very slowly to the grid to save fuel.”

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