Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Imola, 2024

Piastri loses front-row start after penalty for impeding Magnussen

Formula 1

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Oscar Piastri has lost his front-row start for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix after he was penalised for impeding Kevin Magnussen during qualifying.

The McLaren driver had equalled his career-best grand prix grid position with second place in Imola, just behind pole winner Max Verstappen

However, Piastri was involved in an incident at the end of Q1 with Haas driver Magnussen, which resulted in him being summoned to the stewards after the session and handed a three-place grid penalty, dropping him to fifth on the grid.

With under two minutes remaining at the end of Q1, Piastri left the pits on a used set of soft drivers to attempt a final run. He left the pit lane with exactly 1’30 remaining on the clock and was warned by race engineer Tom Stallard that he may not have enough time to start his final lap.

As the McLaren headed to the Tamburello chicane, Magnussen was running down the pit straight, beginning his final flying lap attempt. Stallard was in the process of telling Piastri how fast he would need to go to avoid the chequered flag before he suddenly realised that the Haas was approaching and told him to “watch for Magnussen”.

As the Haas entered the first corner, Piastri was directly in front of him. Magnussen suffered a snap of oversteer through the right-hander of the sequence and abandoned his lap, gesticulating his frustration to Piastri as he passed. Magnussen was sat in 16th place at the time, which ensured he would be eliminated from qualifying. He was eventually knocked out in 18th.

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After investigating the incident, the stewards handed Piastri and three-place grid penalty for ‘unnecessarily impeding’ Magnussen after determining that McLaren had failed to correctly warn him about the Haas approaching.

In their decision, the stewards said that they “accepted the explanation of Piastri that because of the layout of the circuit at that location, he could not see Magnussen until it was too late, at which time he tried to accelerate away in order to get clear of Magnussen as quickly as possible. Magnussen acknowledged that it was difficult for drivers to see cars behind in many portions of the track, including here.

“However, the stewards reviewed the team radio and Piastri’s team did not warn him of the much faster approaching car until Magnussen was too close for Piastri to do anything to safely avoid impeding. In fact, there was approximately a 140kph speed differential and Magnussen was only approximately 40-50m behind at the time and this meant that Piastri was in the middle of the chicane when Magnussen caught up directly behind Piastri. Further, it was clear that Magnussen was on a fast lap since his exit of Turn 19.”

It was the third successive grand prix qualifying session where Magnussen suffered an incident of traffic in qualifying.

“I don’t know what’s going on this year, but it keeps happening,” he told the official F1 channel. “Eventually it’s got to stop happening.

“We don’t seem to be doing anything different to everyone else in terms of timings, when to go out and stuff. But it’s been, out of the seven qualifying [sessions], I think five of them we had traffic, which causes problems on exactly the lap that needs to count. Never on the first run, always on the second when the track is better. So I don’t know what to say, it’s annoying.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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22 comments on “Piastri loses front-row start after penalty for impeding Magnussen”

  1. Unfortunate for Piastri who delivered a good qualifying. The pitwall should have been more alert. For Magnussen, it would have not mattered. He is nowhere close to the scorching pace that Hulkenberg is showing every week.

    1. Although Magnussen could’ve realistically progressed into Q2, so definitely impactful, even if he’d ultimately qualified 15th or maybe 13th at best.

      1. Piastri saved Lewis, given how quick Hulkenberg was it was very likely that Magnussen would have gotten into top 15 knocking Lewis to 16th and out in Q1.

        Sad for Piastri that his race engineer screwed up but in the end he clearly impeded Magnussen so slam duck penalty – no idea why it took hours for the ruling.

        Similar to Lewis only getting the penalty for speeding in the pitlane on lap 2 during Miami sprint at the end of sprint race. Stewards should be much faster with easy straight forward penalties like these.

        1. BMW P85 V10
          18th May 2024, 20:19

          Giving Leweis his penalty much faster would have resulted in Magnussen not having to defend against him. Now he was defending against a driver who shouldn’t have been driving in that position anyway.

        2. slam duck penalty

          quack quack

  2. There’s still time for this weekend’s stewards to change their minds again.

  3. Disappointing from McLaren. What was the need even to go out on used tires?

    1. That’s also a good way of looking at the matter.
      He was perfectly safe for progression, so zero need to go out again, although this equally applies to all other drivers within the top 5 at least.

  4. As expected & he foolishly cost himself a P2 starting position for the race by staying in the middle into the corner instead of avoiding the racing line altogether.
    Yes, he didn’t get warned, but once again, unnecessarily using the racing line for slow-driving is always a driver’s responsibility.

    1. @jerejj I would’ve thought that you’ve been watching F1 long enough to know and understand this. What a ridiculous statement.

      Piastri was basically being told by his engineer to speed up a bit. It’s also really hard and very unnatural to not end up in the middle of a chicane. If he had been advised early enough, it’s likely he would’ve slowed prior to the chicane to allow Magnussen past and then drive through the natural racing line (i.e. the middle) rather than trying to stick to the edges of the corner.

      Do you follow a wall tightly when slowly walking through a hallway with a “chicane”. No, you wouldn’t even think about, you’d just naturally take the shortest line.

      1. @justrhysism I see your point as well & FYI, I’ve been watching & following F1 since 2004.

    2. Stewards and K-Mag both don’t fault him and the former laid the responsibility to the team.

  5. well, now it’s done. Norris won’t try anything, he enjoys way too much coming 2nd to Max.

    1. Even though he beat him last race?

      1. Mr Squiggle
        19th May 2024, 1:40

        He tried hard to second last race. It was only the massive boost from the safety car that forced him to win

        1. He didn’t make Max crash into the bollards which Horner said give Max that huge damage. So it was on Max.

  6. A slam dunk penalty under the rules, but another incident that underlines how deeply stupid the current rules are.

    Finding enough space for a clear lap should be part of the challenge of qualifying, and drivers should take responsibility for doing so. Impeding should only be penalised if deemed to be deliberate or reckless. In this case the stewards acknowledged that Piastri himself was essentially blameless but penalised him anyway.

    1. @red-andy yeah maybe, but it is a team sport. And I think if you allowed that there’s way too much grey-area for the likes of Alonso to play in. And you know he would—all the while making it look innocent.

    2. The stewards say it was the team’s fault for not warning him and Piastri drives for the team. Same goes for things like unsafe release.

      Like Rhys said, it is a team sport. Your driver screwups brings the team down, and other non driver team screwups also being the driver down. Piastri isn’t running a 100 meter sprint on his legs, he is driving a car and is getting Intel and tactical support from the team.

      Also, finding enough space should not be part of the rules. Drivers should not interfere with one another during qualifying, period.

  7. Disappointing with these penalties reducing the chance to have a competitive race.

    1. Is it. Blame McLaren for not warning Piastri so he could avoid a slam dunk penalty.

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