Two areas of the F1 rules have come in for criticism following the Australian and Malaysian Grand Prix.
The qualifying format is under fire following the incident involving Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton in Sepang. And the safety car rules are being examined after several drivers were disadvantaged by them in Melbourne.
Happily, both these complicated problems share the same simple solution: ban refuelling during the race.
Qualifying has been changed several times over the last five years and although the current solution is very much better than some of the past efforts one sticking point remains: the dangerous situation where drivers returning to the pits very slowly after qualifying to save fuel are being passed by much faster drivers still on hot laps.
And the safety car rules were changed last year to prevent drivers rushing to the pits as the safety car arrives on track to get in a quick stop for fuel.
What’s the common problem here? Fuel or, rather, refuelling pit stops. Since it was re-introduced in 1994 to improve the ‘show’, fuel stops have added a rather tedious strategic dimension to F1 races.
In the 15th year since it was brought back I can remember many great and exciting battles for position on the track, but I can’t remember a single interesting pit stop, apart from the ones that went wrong and drivers were doused in sheets of flames. I can, however, think of many promising races spoiled by problems with refuelling rigs…
Ban refuelling, and we don’t have to have ‘race fuel’ qualifying – here are ten reasons why that’s a good idea. Ban refuelling, and the need for drivers to dash to the pits during safety car situations is considerably reduced.
What do you think of my solution?