We’re not going to mince our words – here at The Sett, we loathe the double points rule for Abu Dhabi, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. Thankfully, the powers that be have come to the conclusion that nobody in the entire world likes it, and it will not be returning for 2015. Until then though, all we can do is sit back and let it happen…

Oh, alright then! Let’s mock it a little, shall we?

We’ve picked 5 outrageously bad rules or regulations from the history books, although compared to Abu-Double-Dhabi, they look totally justified.

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DRS

Introduced in 2011, this aerodynamic alteration drops a slot gap in the rear wing of cars when within a second of the car in front. But you knew that already, right?

This rule tends to divide fans. Some love it, some think it’s a bit overkill. To tell you the truth, we’re a bit undecided, but the system definitely needs re-working. At present, the car ahead is a sitting duck if the car behind has a decent exit from the corner before the DRS zone and is in the range, and it almost makes it inevitable.

When you have racers that are good enough to defend effectively (see Hamilton v Rosberg in Bahrain for more info) it can make for more of a challenge, but that rarely happens, and the chap being overtaken just has to take it lying down.

Something we’d like to see would be a limit on usage – how about everyone gets, for example, 10 DRS uses per race. You can use it in the zone, but if a car is in range of you, you can use it to defend if you want. Or, save it for the next lap and try to get the place back. Sounds good, right?

Whatever they decide to do, it feels like IndyCar have a more pristine system in their push-to-pass system.

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Refuelling

When it was part of the sport, refuelling seemed fairly normal. I was born the very same year it was introduced (1994) so I grew up with it as a normality, but in retrospect, what the hell were we thinking?! Hot racing cars and heavy pipes full of liquid explosive dinosaurs? Great idea!

The idea behind refuelling was mainly pushed by Ferrari in 1994, who were using V12 engines. Everyone else, who had V10s and V8s, weren’t overly fussed, but the Scuderia’s prestige was enough for them to swing the FIA, and so it was brought in. There were many accidents over the years, the most prominent in the first year of course was Jos Verstappen’s.

The last accident with a fuel hose came at the 2009 Brazilian GP, where Heikki Kovalainen drove off with the fuel hose and sprayed it all over Kimi Raikkonen behind him, setting the Ferrari on fire.

The Iceman didn’t melt, but it was almost poetic in the way that it signalled just how unnecessarily dangerous the practice was, just one race before it was to be retired. Lap times are obviously slower now, but it means pit stops now take less than three seconds in most cases. And a loose wheel is way safer than a load of ethanol, right?

Well, cameraman Paul Allen may have other ideas on that matter…

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Grooved Tyres/ Narrow cars

1998 provided a huge load of rule changes. They made F1 cars 20cm narrower, and more noticeably, that they cut grooves in the tyres. Both of these changes were like a slimming contest – the cars and tyres were no longer fat and wide, and they no longer clung to the track with what is known as mechanical grip. Instead, aerodynamic grip became way more important and is one of the reasons that the sport costs so much today.

Back in the day, front wings used to be made of straight bits of metal, with a simple triangular endplate that looked like a roofing soffet. Now? We have front wings made of space-aged carbon fiber, some with as many as seven elements on them to deflect air around the tyres and bodywork.

This emphasis on aero has really hurt smaller teams with lesser budgets. 2007 was the first year where aerodynamics really became over-complicated, but back then, there were no new teams. It perhaps explains why Caterham, Marussia and HRT had such a tough time trying to catch up to the rest of the teams, who have all been doing this whole F1 thing for a while longer.

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Aggregate Qualifying

One of F1’s greatest examples of over-complicating something that really doesn’t need.

How would you define F1 qualifying? If you answered something along the lines of “a session where drivers compete to see who is fastest over a single lap” then you would be right! However, in 2005, the FIA decided that it would be better to see who was best over two laps instead. The lap times were added together to give ‘aggregate pole’, but it was so unanimously unpopular, that it was ditched by Monaco, the 7th round of the season.

Cars ran in reverse championship/previous race order, which was a double blow for slower teams and drivers. Not only did they have to suffer the embarrassment of going first, but the tracks were more ‘green’ when they went out, meaning there was no rubber laid down to improve speed. The later the cars went out, the more rubber there was on the track. However, if it rained later on in the session it had the opposite effect. Someone always lost out!

"So you were fastest first, then I was fastest next. Add them together...carry the one..." - Photo: The Cahier Archive
“So you were fastest first, then I was fastest next. Add them together…divide by two…carry the one…” – Photo: The Cahier Archive

The year after, we saw the first season with the current knock-out sessions. Qualifying is now a frantic scramble to make it through to the next session and it makes for truly entertaining viewing.

However, it wasn’t always without its flaws…

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Fuel Compensation

Formula 1 has always been a sport of no half-measures, but back in the early days of knock-out qualifying, there was a rather novel way of slowing down the top 10 drivers for being so darn fast.

Instead of the current system where they have to begin the race on their qualifying tyres, drivers had to start Q3 with their race fuel loads on board. They would be re-compensated after qualifying, and given as many laps worth of fuel as they had used in the session.

This led to many drivers (pretty much all of them) completing ‘fuel burn laps’ at the start of Q3 to get the fuel weight down, to be as light as possible for a final flying lap.

It’s one of the most wasteful things that has ever happened in the sport and the system was thankfully altered for the start of 2008. Still, that’s two whole seasons worth, a total of 35 races. That means ten cars burned off three or four useless laps of fuel, at every one of those weekends, giving us anywhere between 1050 and 1400 laps of fuel needlessly burned. That is a SCARY amount!

If you ever feel bad about your road car’s MPG, just think that back in ’06/’07, F1 drivers were literally setting money on fire.

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