The 20 year old Spaniard demonstrates that young drivers and high performance vehicles are a dangerous combination [this video is from the Japanese Grand Prix in his first season back in 2009, at 0.48]:
The rules about probationary drivers and high-powered cars are contained in Part 2 Division 6 of the Road Safety (Drivers) Regulations 2009.
The General Rule
Regulations 56 and 57: the starting point is that a car will be off-limits to a 'P'-plater if it,
(a) has an engine with 8 cylinders or more; or
(b) has an engine that is turbocharged or supercharged (other than a diesel powered vehicle); or
(c) has an engine that has been modified to increase the vehicle's performance (other than a modification made by the manufacturer in the course of the manufacture of the vehicle); or
(d) is declared by the Corporation under subregulation (4)(a) to be a probationary prohibited vehicle for the purposes of this regulation; or
(e) has a modification declared by the Corporation under subregulation (4)(b) to be a high powered modification.
The penalty for driving a banned vehicle is 10 penalty units, but there may also be consequences on insurance claims or associated charges (for example, involving negligence).
Regulatory declarations make the process more complicated than just popping the bonnet or looking at the rego details. Most casual road users aren't going to find their way to Victoria Government Gazette S518 where a list of cars are either exempted or included in the banned list (does anybody know why there is a list of specific registrations that are exempted?), or Victoria Government Gazette S397 that does the same thing.
There is a search function on the VicRoads website that advises whether or not a particular car is on the banned list.
Since 2009 there has been a new classification of lower performance turbocharged or supercharged vehicles. Probationary drivers are allowed to drive these but only if they have a specific exemption and carry it with them when driving the car.
The VicRoads website describes these as vehicles with 6 cylinders or less that are:
* turbocharged or supercharged with a power to weight ratio of less than 100kW per tonne
* turbocharged or supercharged with a power to weight ratio between 100kW and 125kW per tonne and that is considered to be a family type vehicle (4 seats or more) rather than a sports type vehicle. A family type vehicle is a sedan, station wagon or hatch normally used to carry families/passengers with 4 or more seats and are equipped with child restraint anchorages. A family type vehicle does not include a sports car (two door coupe).
The cars which fit into this category return a response of 'Application Required' on a VicRoads search. The application form is here.
Regulation 57(4)(c) allows VicRoads to authorise a probationary driver to drive a banned vehicle if the nature of that person's occupation, essential activities or family circumstances is such that compliance with the regulation would impose undue hardship on the person or the person's family.
And no special permission is necessary if a probationary driver is using a vehicle in the course of his or her employment and at the request of his or her employer, or in the course of his or her ABN-registered business or to or from the workplace of that business: r 57(2)(a)(i) and (ii).