F1’s other controversial rule changes

Rule changes are frequent in Formula One, but its latest addition has taken some scrutiny from both the press and the public.

A single point will be awarded to the driver and constructor who sets the fastest lap in a Grand Prix – provided they finish inside the top 10.

It’s not the first time a rule change has been met with controversy, so here’s a selection of other F1 rule changes that caused a stir:

Elimination Qualifying – 2016

The three-stage knockout qualifying system F1 has used in 2006 has worked wonders, creating drama and tension right until the chequered flag in Q3. So, when the FIA announced a raft of changes to it in 2016, it was met with widespread scepticism.

Nico Rosberg, Australia 2016 Image: Dustin Halcon

 

The changes meant that, instead of five cars being knocked out at the end of Q1 and Q2, a countdown clock would begin after seven minutes. That countdown would run for 90 seconds, by the end of which the slowest car would be immediately eliminated from the session. That countdown would reset and keep running every 90 seconds until five cars had been eliminated.

Only 8 cars would progress to Q3, where after five minutes, another 90 second countdown would begin.

The farcical result of this meant that pole position was decided three minutes before the end of the session – with no cars on track and drivers already walking to the media pen.

The system was short-lived, surviving only two races before teams managed to get the FIA to consign it to F1’s scrapheap.

Double-points for the final race of the season – 2014

Off the back of Sebastian Vettel’s dominant 2013 season, where he clinched the championship with three races to spare, another amendment to the points system was hastily rushed through.

Lewis Hamilton, 2014
Image: Wikimedia

Double points were to be awarded at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2014 as a means to ensure the championship battle stayed alive and provided fans with a nail-biting end to the year. It meant that, instead of the normal 25 points, the race win would be worth a whopping 50.

Under normal circumstances, that year’s championship would have gone down to the wire anyway. Lewis Hamilton led Nico Rosberg by just 17 points.

It presented a major flaw; if Lewis Hamilton didn’t score, he faced losing the championship if Rosberg finished as low as fifth.

Pit-lane closures during a safety car period – 2007-2008

In 2007, safety car regulations were changed meaning that the pit-lane would close if a safety car was deployed.

It instigated horrendously unfair scenarios where drivers who needed to pit for fuel – and were scheduled to anyway –  would receive a stop-go penalty if they pitted before it had reopened.

Nick Heidfeld, Canada 2008
Image: Wikimedia

Further to that, whilst the entrance may have re-opened, the pit exit would remain closed even longer. This meant that cars would have to queue before the light went green again.

The 2007 Canadian Grand Prix saw Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella disqualified from the race for exiting the pit-lane before before the green light whilst in the 2008 race, Lewis Hamilton ploughed into the back of title rival Kimi Raikkonen, who was waiting patiently for the light to change.

The rule was subsequently reversed in 2009.