107%

Back when I started watching Formula One in 1998 there was a rule that if a driver qualified outside of 107% of the pole driver’s time they would not be able to race. That rule happily disappeared over the years due to the competitiveness of the cars taking part.

After last year’s new team’s struggles though the FIA has brought the rule back in again. This made me wonder how such a rule would have affected our karting over the last couple of years. So faced with intermittent internet connection (thanks BT/netgear or whoever is to blame) I decided to find out how many people would have failed to qualify in our three karting races.

When you look at an F1 qualifying session it seems like 107% is actually quite a large margin for error. A laptime typically takes at least 90 seconds to complete. To qualify outside of 107% on a lap lasting 90 seconds a driver would need to do his lap in 96.3 or more seconds. Even at their worst last year HRT were ahead of this figure and you would really hope that by now they would have found some of that missing performance.

Apply it to karting though and on our tracks a lap takes only a third of that time – we are generally done in about 30 seconds if not less so evidently the margin for error in the kart shrinks as well. Instead of 6.3 seconds the karter would need to come in within 2.1 seconds of the best and we have had spreads of 10 seconds in the past…

But lets look at our three race sessions (my internet still isn’t back)

Race 1 – Dec ’09
Pole sitter: Matt Teager – 28.00

This means that to qualify you would have had to have finished within 29.96 seconds which is no mean feat (but then Matt is better than us).

As such we would have had 5 people qualify with Jun and myself about 0.05 seconds from not making it.

Race 2 – Aug ’10
Pole sitter: Matt Teager – 28.7 (not sure where Matt lost the 0.7 from December – probably getting black flagged)

To qualify you would need a 30.7

How many people managed this? Three…

Race 3 – Dec ’10
Pole sitter: Jonathan Little – 29.83

To qualify you had only to get a 31.92 and you know what… That is exactly to the hundredth of a second what Thomas got in with for 8th place.

What does that go to show? Well that I’m not as good as Matt Teager, that none of us are as good as Formula One cars and that while we are using equal machinery and taking only 30 seconds to do a lap it is mighty impressive that 24 F1 cars designed by 12 different teams can be that close in terms of performance over a lap that lasts a lot longer than one of our jaunts around a kart track.

Oh and one other bit of trivia… Paddy wouldn’t have qualified once.