By Ollie Barstow
F1 Editor

F1 is a progressive sport and rarely does it go from one season to the next without some alterations to the rules and regulations, some more significant than others. However, as both recent events and history shows, it doesn't always get it right, leaving the sport littered with numerous about-turns.

Elimination qualifying - though given a stay of execution at the time of writing - isn't the first instance where F1 bosses and teams have tried something a bit different, be it through format, engineering or regulation, only to run into trouble to the point it has to be reversed, forgotten or banned altogether.

Here are just a few examples of some of F1's briefer flirtations with ideas now filed under misadventure...

Disclaimer: Of course, elimination qualifying remains for the time being at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but in the true spirit of F1, I have persevered with this feature on the basis it counts as a U-turn-turned-U-turn. Or something to that effect.

Brabham's remarkable one-hit wonderBrabham BT46B 'Fan Car'

It's a car that gets featured in numerous rundowns of F1's more unusual creations, tucked somewhere between the six-wheel Tyrrell P34 and the walrus-nosed Williams FW26, but one must really take a step back and consider the Brabham BT46B for what it really is - a quite extraordinary feat of engineering and innovation that existed all too briefly.

An adaptation of the Alfa Romeo-engined BT46, the B-specification machine - or 'fan car' as it is more colloquially known - had been developed over the first half of the 1978 world championship season as a direct, albeit very alternative, response to Colin Chapman's ground-breaking ground effect Lotus 78/79, which by this time had evolved from an promising but ultimately unreliable oddity to a honed, race winning machine.

As Lotus displayed an immense speed advantage in the opening rounds, rivals scrambled to try and understand ground effect. However, it was Brabham's Gordon Murray that came up with the most dramatic - yet instantly successful - solution.

Dubbed the 'Fan Car', the BT46B featured just that - a large fan - at the back of the car that, through a series of clutches, developed more suction the faster it got to improve downforce.

Rolled out at the Swedish Grand Prix, round eight of the season, for drivers Niki Lauda and John Watson, the BT46B - much to the indignation of rivals - proved quick out of the box. Qualifying second and third on the grid, Lauda battled with eventual champion Michael Andretti until the American made an error and opened the door for the Austrian to clinch a spectacular victory on the car's debut...

However, it was to be victory in the only F1 race the car ever turned a wheel in as rivals cried foul. It's very possible the car could have had more of a future had Brabham owner - a one Bernie Ecclestone - not at the time been touting for support in pursuit of presidency for FOCA at the time. Reportedly, teams threatened to withdraw support if he didn't scrap the car.

The BT46B was never strictly banned and the win stood, but Ecclestone bowed and the car was never seen in competition again. If this was indeed the tipping point that secured Ecclestone his presidency, nearly 40 years on you can't argue with the long-term benefits for himself. It's just a shame that it came at the expense of one of F1's most curiously remarkable engineering oddities - just imagine if it led to a 1979 Ferrari 312 with a fan swirling at the rear of it...

F1's shootout own goal2005 - Aggregated qualifying
Though the basic premise of the format wasn't all that brief - three seasons in total -, the largely panned one-lap shootout was constantly being tweaked in the (some would say futile) attempt to improve its popularity.

A reaction to criticism that the previous one-hour free session only saw proper action in the closing stages when the circuit was at its best, this time drivers would hit the track one-by-one and complete a single flying lap. However, though it ensured cars remained on track, the ambience of having just one car going flat out at once fell flat and it simply favoured those running last anyway.

However, the format hit its nadir in 2005 when the FIA introduced aggregate qualifying - adding a driver's lap times from the two sessions -, with a low fuel run on Saturday and a lap with race fuel on Sunday mornings. Generating little excitement on a Saturday, aggregate qualifying was a tweak too far and after just six races it was dropped in favour of a single one-lap shootout on a Saturday with race fuel. Mercifully, it would prove the last interpretation for 'one-at-a-time qualifying', as it made way for the universally liked knockout format we were using for almost a decade.

Outlawed before it turned a wheel... or fourFour-wheel steering

The 1994 F1 season would prove a pivotal moment for the sport in more ways than that April weekend at Imola. Recognising spiralling costs and a concern that F1 was becoming more about machine than man, F1 sought to eliminate both in one swipe of the pen by banning a series of costly driver aids, including revolutionary active suspension, ABS, traction control and launch control. More curiously, however, the banned list also included four-wheel steering, despite the fact it had barely made it off the drawing board.

Conceived as an idea to improve agility and grip, four-wheel steering altered the degree of the rear wheels slightly around bends.

Though it never turned any competitive wheels, teams had conducted research, with Benetton coming very close to introducing it for the latter rounds of the 1993 season after testing the concept on its Ross Brawn-penned B193 during a private test at Estoril.

Even though four-wheel steering had already been lumped onto the banned list as Benetton rolled the dubbed B193C out, the F1 world still watched with interest to see just how much of an advantage it could offer... as it happened, Michael Schumacher and Riccardo Patrese reported a different handling sensation but there was otherwise no noticeable difference to lap time.

Despite the lukewarm reviews, Benetton planned to race it for the final two events in Japan and Australia, but would only go as far as FP1 at Suzuka as the drivers decided the standard B193 was just as quick and considerably easier to drive.

With the impending ban, the system was no longer pursued... whether it would have been another technological revolutionary for F1, we'll never quite know.

The disadvantaged advantage2009 - KERS

On paper KERS - Kinetic Energy Recovery System - appeared to be a no brainer for teams looking to establish an edge over its rivals. One the one hand, KERS indicated a commitment from the FIA to be more environmentally-astute and aware of road car relevant technology, yet there was also potential performance gains to be gleaned from the way a car could recover kinetic energy under braking. Win-win.

Introduced for 2009, albeit not mandatory as research was still in its infancy, unsurprisingly it was the better funded teams - McLaren, Ferrari, BMW Sauber and Renault - that pursued development. However, KERS was more complex - and thus more unreliable - than anticipated, with BMW and Renault both quietly dropping it after a few races as the non-KERS equipped Brawn and Red Bull began to romp clear in the standings.

McLaren and Ferrari persevered and were eventually rewarded, with Lewis Hamilton scoring a win in Hungary, while Kimi Raikkonen's success in Belgium was credited to KERS keeping Giancarlo Fisichella behind him.

In the interests of accuracy, KERS was never strictly outlawed, but its substantial costs coupled to its unconvincing return prompted teams to agree not to use it in 2010 at all. KERS did eventually return, all but three teams using it in 2011 as a change in the weight of the cars allowed a more convincing case for it, but for all of its supposed good intentions across the board, it suffered plenty of growing pains.


It's qualifying... get the calculator outMultiple grid penalties

F1 has had more than its fair share of criticisms in recent years for becoming somewhat complicated... and we're not just talking about the cars. Even simple matters, like qualifying, have demanded a pen, a paper and a Maths degree at times to determine exactly where drivers are starting.

Though the advent of penalties for using new power units and gearboxes is a worthy incentive to encourage reliability, when you are so far away from achieving this, the penalty system is ripe for farce.

Of course, this was no more apparent in 2015 as McLaren struggled to turn its Honda power unit on without it going pop in some way. The woefully unreliable MP4-30 suffered so many ICE, turbocharger, MGU-K, MGU-H and gearbox problems - sometimes on the same day -, that the component use spreadsheet handed out at the beginning of each race made for painful reading.

With each change of component notching up varying degrees of penalties, McLaren realised a 10 place grid penalty versus an effective 30 place grid penalty on a grid of 20 cars didn't make a lot of difference, even with a time penalty included to try and stop teams from abusing the system.

As both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso notched up penalties ranging from the modest 20 to the ridiculous 50, it was the Briton who topped out in Mexico with 70 positions worth of grid penalties, which we calculated placed him somewhere around Cancun where he would have probably rather been at that moment.

Somewhat belatedly, the FIA recognised this wasn't exactly doing the sport a service as the media revelled in writing barmy headlines and announced mid-season that, while the regulations remained in effect, time forfeits were out and there was to be no multiplying grid penalties into bafflingly unenforceable numbers.

Still, this didn't stop possibly the most confusing qualifying session taking place in Italy when six drivers acquired 168 positions worth of penalties for various reasons, shaking up the grid to the point few even knew the starting order until the FIA got its abacus out and published the grid on Sunday morning.

Torture of a one-time American scorcher1984 Dallas Grand Prix

It's not really acceptable in Bernie's modern age of F1 to land a race deal without fairly substantial multi-million, multi-year contracts to back up the commitment, but that hasn't stopped some events from disappearing all-too-quickly from the schedules in recent years, Korea, India and Valencia being case examples. Despite this, there have only been three instances in F1's history where an event was held just once.

While one-time races in Pescara and Morocco can perhaps be explained away for being held as F1 was finding its feet in the 1950's, the inaugural and swansong Dallas Grand Prix in 1984 was symptomatic of the increasing excess the sport was experiencing as it rapidly evolved into a multi-million pound business.

A city keen to position itself as a modern city beyond notoriety for JR Ewing's close brush with fictional death - the Dallas Grand Prix formed a mid-season American double bill alongside Detroit. However, though this was logistically logical, it would consequently expose drivers to the excruciating Texas summer, where temperatures were likely to exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius). Coupled to a demanding, albeit fairly well received, Fair Park street circuit layout, the race was already expected to test both man and machine at the very least.

It was the circuit itself, however, that buckled first. With surface temperatures rising to a scorching 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 Celsius), the circuit bubbled, expanded and began to break apart over the course of the weekend, an issue exacerbated by heavier, more abrasive Cam-Am cars from the support events ripping it up further. By the morning of the race, drivers were forming a boycott as circuit workers attempted valiantly to piece the track - which had developed sizeable holes in some areas - back together.

Neither proved terribly successful, the boycott falling flat as it failed to reach unanimity and the track - though hastily repaired - losing its integrity as the 26 cars battered it apart again as the lights went out.

Unsurprisingly, the race was one of attrition, numerous cars spat into the wall as the worsening surface broke up into marbles, while the rough surface played its part in shaking the cars into submission. Famously, Nigel Mansell's Lotus suffered a gearbox failure in the sight of the finish line, prompting him to push the car across the line - to classify him in sixth place -, but the searing heat coupled to his black overalls would see him collapse as he did so.

Despite all of the issues, the event was ironically well received in terms of organisation and in terms of a racing challenge - the broken surface and baffling mid-summer scheduling notwithstanding -, but F1 wouldn't return to the streets of Dallas again as the sport slimmed back to just one US round for 1985.

Still, the one-time round is remembered more fondly that F1's brief foray to Phoenix and we have of course returned to Texas with the incumbent United States Grand Prix in Austin

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