Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Albert Park, 2017

Sauber fume at “incomprehensible” let-off for Magnussen

2017 Australian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said it was “incomprehensible” Kevin Magnussen avoided a penalty for a first-lap collision which led to the retirement of one of her team’s cars.

Magnussen collided with Marcus Ericsson at turn three on the first lap of the race. The stewards investigated the crash but ruled it was a racing incident.

2017 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
Ericsson said the contact left him with damage which ultimately led to his retirement on lap 22.

“I got hit from behind, which caused lots of damage on the right side as well as to the floor of the car,” he said.

“From that moment on, it was all about finishing the race. Later on, I had to stop the car on track due to a hydraulic failure caused by the incident on lap one.”

Kaltenborn was unimpressed with the stewards’ refusal to hand down a penalty. “Marcus’ race was ruined after the start in turn three,” she said.

“The situation there was clear-cut, so it is incomprehensible why the stewards didn’t react to the incident.”

Magnussen damaged his front wing in the collision and later retired with suspension failure.

2017 F1 season

Browse all 2017 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

36 comments on “Sauber fume at “incomprehensible” let-off for Magnussen”

  1. I understand she’s angry as something like this would have been penalized last year.

    However they did say before the race that they would let the drivers sort it out on track, so I’m not exactly surprised. The stewards might also have taken into account that Magnussen was the one who lost the most in the incident.

    1. @paeschli This incident truly highlights the rule amendment. I’d say Magnussen was clumsy, made a mistake so at least a reprimand would be not only deserved but a good way to penalise drivers for impetuous moves.

      1. Let’s not forget, Kevin hit the kerb hard on entry to the corner apex. His front end was unsettled and he needed the space occupied by Marcus’ to correct it.

        Surely, you accept there’s a chance that your opponent might go deep and run wide when you try a move on the outside, especially in the opening laps.

        I understand her frustration but these comments aren’t going to help her image. It was under her watch, remember, that the team had too many contacted drivers to fit into two cars. Public opinion, although understanding of Sauber’s financial plight, was pretty scathing of her handling of the situation. I haven’t really seen her giving any tv interviews since then, until this season.

        Monisha, with due respect and admiration, should have taken a few minutes to cool down and be more measured before issuing this response. We all know how much it means. We know it’s painfully frustrating to see one of your cars taken out by someone else. But, if Kevin was punished for this, it would have set a dangerous bench mark for the rest of the season. For me, It’s as much Marcus’ fault for trying an optimistic move. 9 times out of 10, he’d have pulled it off, but, on this occasion, he didn’t. You can’t win them all. Sauber will no doubt also benefit from some of these ‘blameless’ incidents throughout the course of the season.

        Sauber has a special place in my F1 heart. Just like Williams does. I don’t particularly give them my full attention, but it pains me to see them struggle. I’m sure many others feel the same. For 25 years service, they deserve more.

        1. @andybantam I don’t agree that the driver being overtaken has to allow additional safety margin. I believe the responsibility lies with the person overtaking. These guys are amongst the best in the world and are capable of overtaking others without hitting people on the way through.

  2. Race incident brilliant there was no penalty. In recent years it’s been zero tolerance, 1 mistake and a penalty. If the same driver keeps havingvyhe same issue then fine but not this time. He hit the curb and pushed into the other car, no malice just an honest mistake in racing conditions. I hope they are consistent this year with similar incidents.

  3. And Ericsson could have left more room as he turned it more tightly than necessary therefore it was also his fault to a certain degree. Considering this the decision was absolutely right as Magnussen wasn’t the only one responsible.

    1. Have you actually seen a video? Are you really saying it was 50-50? For real?! Ericsson left tons of room. He could not have left more room:

      It was completely magnussen’s fault 100%. It should have been penalty because it took ericsson out of the race. It was not intentional but the fault is clear here imho. There was no way of ericsson avoiding magnussen.

      1. I didn’t say it was 50-50 it was more 90-10 or so.

    2. Bit harsh to put part of the blame on Ericsson. Did he cause Ricciardo to retire as well?

      1. Definitely yes!

    3. Just imagine this had been Grosjean hitting Lulu Hamilton! Half of Cybernet would be up in arms demanding Grosjean’s head on a plate and the so-called stewards (hostages to give an illusion of propriety really) would have been quick to both investigate and penalise the driver who very dared compromise Lulu’s race. So you see folks, because it’s Sauber, Ericsson and Magnussen, no-one cares…

      1. *Great big eye watering YAWN…!

      2. Are we back in 2012? Why Grosjean? Hamilton has had plenty of decisions against him as have all the drivers on the grid. Last year this would be a penalty now they will let ut go. Watch races from the 90’s and back and no one would bat an eyelid. In fact these penalties have only come about on such avscale in the last 10 years.

  4. Agree. Ericsson left so much room but Magnussen being his usual self just crashed into the side of him eventually leading to a DNF for Sauber. Slam-Dunk Penalty.

  5. I think they’ve gone too far the other way now. All these small incidents where both people remain on track with basically no loss but hard fighting, should be overlooked. In this case, Ericsson did nothing but leave space, and Magnussen still punted him into the gravel.

    Whether or not it was intentional does not matter, it was amateur and cost another driver his race. If you punt someone off the road if they played no part in it, it should be a penalty no doubt.

    1. He got a penalty called DNF. Why would you punish him further?

    2. @ho3n3r I completely agree. The rule change was because so many people, especially drivers, have been fed up of the over-regulation of close racing incidents. Going up the inside, messing it up, and ramming a driver off definitely shouldn’t apply there.

  6. I for one will be fascinated to see if the stewards hold their nerve if a rookie does the same to a title contender…

    1. Exactly…

    2. Stroll you mean :)

    3. Hell yeah, COTD ;)
      We shall see, but I am somehow doubtful.

    4. Could not agree more!

      1. Like all sports title contenders seem to get the rub of the green with decisions. I want to know if this new decision making continues through the whole season as in sports like football there are new directives for refs but after a few games everything slips back to normal.

  7. While Magnussen is definitely to blame for the incident, what good what a penalty do? Magnussen suffered a puncture and ended up DNFing. Giving him a drive-through or similar would have made no difference. Ericsson’s race would still be equally ruined. We can all agree Sauber lost one of their best points scoring chances this year, just look at super rookie Giovinazzi finishing in P12. Ericsson, with a clean race, could possibly have entered the top 10.

    So I understand where Sauber’s anger comes from, but the stewards were right to award no penalty. It would not have mattered. I just hope, like Keith stated, that stewards maintain the same attitude when Stroll pushes Hamilton off the track.

  8. This decision is total comprehensible, KMag made a small driving error on the opening lap when cars are all close to each other, the result was unfortunate but not catastrophic or even dangerous. Hopefully this more sensible approach to the year will continue and teams/drivers will learn to just get on with it. Sauber drivers may even be of a calibre that they are likely to benefit from this leniency rather than suffer over the course of a season!

    1. Sauber drivers benefit? Please explain.

  9. He should have received a 5 second penalty. Ericsson left plenty of space.

    1. Before or after he got a DNF @satchelcharge? I think above @chrischrill says it quite well, penalty wouldn’t have helped Sauber anyway, and MAG already suffered; he’ll wish he didn’t make that mistake.

  10. WeatherManNX01
    26th March 2017, 17:16

    “Let the drivers race,” they say. “Fewer penalties,” they say.

    “Okay,” says the FIA and the stewards.

    “Why the $%&# didn’t you penalize him? It was totally his fault!”

    FIA and stewards bang their heads on their desks.


    Was it KMag’s fault? Absolutely. Was it exceedingly reckless or dangerous? Not really. It was just a stupid move.

    And really, what is to be gained from a penalty? If KMag made a move that gave him advantage, then you need to penalize. But he had to limp around with a puncture, and both he and Ericsson had to retire. A penalty neither benefits Ericsson nor punishes Magnussen. So let it be.

    1. You are right. I just hope the stewards wil act consistent along this road all this season.

  11. Last race of the season. Driver X has a few more points than driver Y. Driver X hits driver Y in first corner and both are out of the race, no penalty and the title is secured.

    Don’t think they will be consistent over the season, depends who is involved.

  12. If this is the direction they want to go with stewarding decisions, then I’m all for it.
    It wasn’t a deliberate or dangerous move, just a small error that happened to have serious consequences for two drivers, one of which was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    I just hope the same principle is applied consistantly throughout the season.

  13. I think the stewards got it right. KMag hit the kerb hard and that resulted in him hitting the Sauber. He was a passenger once he hit the kerb.
    Let’s say KMag didn’t hit the kerb but just delayed turning the wheel in an effort to make Ericsson run out of room on the track (kind of Rosberg on Verstappen in Germany last year), that would have warranted a penalty as that would have been deliberate.
    Here, KMag’s move was not deliberate, it was a genuine mistake. Amateur driving by him, but not deliberate. So, no penalty makes sense.

    1. Well that’s all well and good, but it was KMag behind the steering wheel when he drove it into the kerb so he was clearly at fault. I’m not sure a race penalty is suitable, but this bad driving cries out for some penalty points (say 2 or 3) on his licence. If it’s a one (or 2 or 3) off then they will have no effect, but if KMag continues to offend then it will have consequences later.

  14. He raced hard, car got out of shape and collected Sauber.

    This is intended feature of new show friendly racing. We want to see drivers pushing and loosing it.

Comments are closed.