Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Monaco, 2024

F1 stewards again appear reluctant to trigger a race ban

Formula 1

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All three drivers emerged unscathed from their huge crash at the start of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, which prompted the first sighs of relief.

Then came the second, from Kevin Magnussen, who appeared in grave danger of carrying the blame for the collision and collecting a penalty.

That could have been disastrous for the Haas driver, who already has 10 penalty points on his licence, and will receive an automatic ban if he collects two more.

On the face of it, the stewards’ decision not to penalise Magnussen is surprising. The fact such a major crash did not prompt an investigation at all is even more questionable as Sergio Perez, whom Magnussen tipped into a barrier, observed.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Melbourne, 2023
Gasly wiped out his team mate at Melbourne in 2023
Of the two drivers who triggered the collision, Magnussen was inarguably the best-placed to avoid it, as he was the one attempting the pass and had full view of Perez’s Red Bull. Whether Perez should have allowed Magnussen more room on the winding run up Beau Rivage is the issue at stake. We can only assume the stewards considered him at least as responsible as Magnussen.

It’s not unusual for the stewards to take a more lenient stance on collisions which happen after a standing start. Still, Esteban Ocon was not spared a penalty for tangling with his team mate further around the same lap. Again, as there was no investigation we can only guess at the stewards’ reasoning.

What is clear is Magnussen should consider himself extremely fortunate. Of his 10 penalty points, seven were issued for three separate collisions involving other drivers: Alexander Albon at Jeddah, Yuki Tsunoda at Shanghai and Logan Sargeant at Miami. The latter incident bore the closest similarities to Sunday’s collision – the stewards penalised Magnussen after ruling he wasn’t far enough alongside Sargeant that the Williams driver should have left him space.

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The FIA introduced F1’s penalty points system 10 years ago. It was partly a response to a decision by the stewards at the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix to ban Romain Grosjean for one race for causing a multi-car collision at the first corner. The justification was that Grosjean had been involved in other smaller incidents on previous occasions, and having a system which tracked drivers’ misdemeanours during a season could prompt them to change their approach accordingly.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2020
Two of Hamilton’s penalty points were rescinded in 2020
It may well have worked, as no F1 driver has reached the 12-point threshold necessary to trigger a ban. However the stewards’ decision not to penalise Magnussen last weekend isn’t the first time they’ve appeared reluctant to issue the final points which would tip one over the edge.

Last year Pierre Gasly was in the same position as Magnussen at the Australian Grand Prix, with 10 points on his licence. At a late restart he went off the track, rejoined on the left-hand side, moved across to the racing line on the right-hand side and collided with his team mate Ocon, putting both out.

On the face of it, Gasly stood at risk of being penalised for either unsafely rejoining the track or causing a collision, or both, yet incredibly the stewards stayed their hands. Justifying their decision the stewards noted Gasly and Ocon “recognised and accepted” the collision was a “racing incident” – as if two employees of the same team would ever tell them differently.

This prompted some to claim that the stewards, knowing more penalty points for Gasly would trigger a ban, felt a tad gun-shy. The same appeared to be the case in Monaco last weekend, though again it would be easier to understand the stewards’ thinking had they issued an explanation.

While drivers in other series have received bans for collecting 12 penalty points (notably four in Formula 2), it remains to be seen whether the same would happen to one of F1’s star drivers. It’s striking that one of the few occasions when penalty points have been retroactively withdrawn occured when Lewis Hamilton reached 10 points for a few hours until the stewards performed a U-turn, at Sochi in 2020.

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Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Monaco, 2024
Poll: Did any driver deserve a penalty for race-stopping Monaco GP crash?
By its nature, the penalty points system can create situations where a driver who receives a mild, one-point sanction earns a race ban as a result. The FIA has undoubtedly improved matters by no longer issuing penalty points for all but the most egregious track limits offences.

But Magnussen seems determined to test whether they would actually go so far as to ban an F1 driver in this way. Monaco felt like a stay of execution for Magnussen. With 20 more races and qualifying sessions still to come in 2024, how many more lives will the stewards grant him?

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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...

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31 comments on “F1 stewards again appear reluctant to trigger a race ban”

  1. Just another point of inconsistency. They have no idea what they are doing… sometimes a tiny touch is 3 points, sometimes a huge crash gets the green light. The whole system is flawed. We all said no one would ban Magnussen that easily as this would happen anyway, so there’s a consistency there…

    I say if there’s a minor contact (Sainz against Piastri at Monaco, Alonso against Sainz at China), do the Indycar way: avoidable collision -> drive through. It’s fixed there and then and we can all move on. Other infringements should be investigated further, and decide appropiate penalties (stop and go, grid penalty for next year). And penalty points should be given for major infringements, not because of a few scars during on track battles: not slowing for yellows, overtaking under SC, speeding in pits, big crashes.

    1. I agree with a return to drive-through and stop-go penalties for certain incidents; too often, a five- or ten-second time penalty added at the end of a race has resulted in little impact on the running order and therefore feels like less of a penalty, especially if the recipient has pace in hand.

      1. @noelynoel To be fair this year 5 second penaulties were increased to 10 seconds just for the reason you noted. For some incidents penaulties as drive through and even stop-go should be given (like overtaking outside the track) stop-go should only for very serious offends like speeding in the pitlane (safety things)

  2. Well, maybe he could earn another two points, take the one race ban, and get back to zero….. That would free up his driving style again.

    1. That is exactly what I think his mindset is.
      Just miss a race and get back to having fun helping Nico score points.

    2. I have great sympathy for Magnussen in general (and not just because I am Danish!), but his driving this season has had a twinge of desperation to it. He has always been a hard racer (and sometimes perhaps too hard) but it is as if his head is in the wrong place right now.

      He is bound to get two extra penalty points at some point during the season. Personally, I would like to see him get the penalties timed just right to miss the last race before the summer break, to get him both a penalty reset and time to have a mental reset.

      1. JR Love (@dermechaniker)
        29th May 2024, 18:02

        Your observation is shared by me.

        I like him, too and I see that same desperation in his driving. I can’t, yet, tell if this, very clear, issue where the final points paying position is the only opportunity the back half of the grid have to score a point is simply making the back half a bit more frenetic that previous seasons.

        I cannot help but wonder if behind-closed-doors discussions are adding pressure on drivers to get out there and secure that one available point. At Haas, it seems almost manic in the approach. For if the team disapproved of MAG’s driving, they would have disciplined him internally. It’s nearly looks as though they have ordered him to do it.

    3. I think if a driver gets a race ban they come back on six penalty points, as a form of “probation” so that a further race ban would come more quickly.

      In theory, of course. We all know it will never happen.

      1. If they made the rules a lot more simpler, things would be too obvious and easy to assert. I would have 1 point for every infringement, every 10 points a race ban, and reset at the end of the year. Obviously things like impeding or unsafe releases would be on the team, and they could face race bans too.

  3. The same appeared to be the case in Monaco last weekend, though again it would be easier to understand the stewards’ thinking had they issued an explanation.

    I think that speaks volumes about what happened. Contrast to the lengthy, and appreciated, explanations given earlier in the season. By not even bothering to investigate the incident, the stewards gave themselves an escape from having to justify their actions.

    The system is meaningless when the points stop being given once a driver is in danger of a ban. They may as well not bother.

    1. The system is meaningless when the points stop being given once a driver is in danger of a ban. They may as well not bother

      I agree. This is really setting a precedent. There is no real penalty for driving recklessly, other than a 5 second penalty on track which has already proven to be mostly ineffective.

    2. Does anyone who’s good with stats have a list of drivers who have been on say 9+ penalty points and been involved in further incidents that didn’t award penalty points? I’m sure other drivers have been in this situation – Grosjean, Vettel, and maybe someone else like Kvyat, because I know this refusal to hand out points when close to a race ban was on my radar long before the Gasly incident last year.

    3. I have no doubt they’ll ban him after the next, even minor, incident simply because their effort to avoid banning Gasly was glaring and he had a lot less heat on him. If Magnussen was to go without a ban, it’d be too visible of a debacle. However, overall, I’ll wager they’ll continue this practice of avoiding penalty points when a driver is close to a ban and they “only” need to go a month or two without a penalty.

  4. It’s my understanding that the stewards felt it was a 50/50 first lap racing incident in which both drivers held an equal amount of blame, Hence the decision was taken to take no action against either.

    Kevin could have backed out sooner but wasn’t out of order trying the move & expecting to be left a bit more room. And Sergio was looking in his mirror & knew Kevin was there so could have moved over & left him more room.

    1. @gt-racer Indeed. This article suggests that the blame lies on Magnussen but there were no points given due to the looming race ban. But the stewards deemed it a racing incident and there does not seem to be consensus among the audience and the pundits either who was predominantly to blame.

      To be honest, I first thought it was Magnussen’s fault. But before you blame someone you first must decide whether the collission was at a straight or in a corner. When you consider it a corner, then Magnussen had to be at least a half car’s width alongside to make a pass. However, when it is considered a straight, then Perez cannot squeeze the opponent when he is already even a tiny bit alongside. That specific part of the track is neither a corner nor a straight so it is very difficult to decide who had to back out.

      1. This is a key question when judging this one. I think for the purposes of this judgement, we can consider it as a straight, on the basis that I belive there would easily be enough grip for two cars to drive through it side-by-side without lifting. That might change in the wet, or later in the race when there would be marbles everywhere off line. But on a dry lap 1, I regard this as a straight.
        There was no need for Perez to drive Magnussen into the wall. Had he not done this, he would easily have been able to take the left-hand kink flat out. So it’s Perez’s fault.

      2. However, when it is considered a straight, then Perez cannot squeeze the opponent when he is already even a tiny bit alongside. That specific part of the track is neither a corner nor a straight so it is very difficult to decide who had to back out.

        Here’s a bit of assistance to everyone who has any doubt that Perez was in the wrong.
        Play the video available on the net, Youtube and others, take your pick, and then look carefully at the white line running up the road.
        Watch Perez drive straddling that line, and then note that he moves rightward from that line, narrowing the gap just before the crash sequence starts.

        Did Perez leave enough space?
        Initially yes, and then he checks his mirrors several times and moves right, and Magnussen now has no way of removing his front left wheel from the interlock with Perez’s rear right wheel. The only driver able to unlock that puzzle is Perez, who has clear space to his left, while Magnussen has a wall to his right. Perez doesn’t unlock the puzzle. Now we proceed to the extended debris field…

        1. What is not clear to me is where kmag was when Perez looked in his credit card sized mirror. My guess was he could see the car but depending where kmag was at that point in time, Perez may not be able to tell if he was behind or slightly along side. If he thought kmag was behind then a squeeze to close off that option was a fair move. Even if Perez had stayed straight kmag wasn’t going anywhere and I don’t think any other driver would have left kmag any room either, he was way too far back.

        2. @SteveP you’ve made this statement (about the wheels being interlocked several times). I’ve looked at the footage again and don’t see an interlock. At no time was the whole of Magnussen’s wheel ahead of Perez’s, so no interlock could take place.

          All Magnussen had to do was lift slightly and this crash would not have occurred. I agree Perez was partly at fault, but would apportion the blame 75% Magnussen to 25% Perez.

      3. That point isn’t a real straight but also not a corner more a long S (also the right wall is coming to the left on that spot) you can see onboard of Perez you see Bottas in front doing the same.
        Funny enough Just a few second earlier Gasly and Ocon were in the same situation and Ocon had to jump back as Gasly did the same as Perez (You can see that onboard camera) .

  5. The penalty points system is all a farce tbh. At this point it seems a driver after reaching 10-11 points needs to kill someone to get the additional race banning points.

    1. Which means we are back to the Grosjean days where if you do a massive strike, you get a ban, otherwise you don’t.

  6. Alternatively, the stewards thought it was a racing incident (neither or both drivers equally to blame) and Magnussen will indeed get 2 points and a race ban very soon. I suspect we may get proof either way fairly soon.

  7. Merely a coincidence rather than a deliberate attempt to avoid giving a race ban.
    The Gasly-Ocon collision in Melbourne only happened as a result of a chain reaction caused by Sainz, so this factor is the logical explanation for him not getting a single penalty point for that collision, albeit the Magnussen-Perez one is weirder, & although, Magnussen was clearly at fault or at least had the greatest chance of avoiding the collision, the stewards’ motive for not issuing anything probably indeed lies within what’s mentioned in the article.
    Magnussen would definitely receive enough penalty points to match or exceed 12 if he causes something massive over the remaining 2024 GPs that doesn’t happen on an opening lap, & where no one could argue against him being wholly or predominantly to blame.

    1. Gasly would’ve left the track and go onto the grass even without Sainz touching Alonso – watch the replay. You can see that in the moment Sainz was touching Alonso, Gasly was already touching the grass!

      The only reason Gasly wasn’t suspended was because of Ocon testimony, who told stewards (as per team request, I believe) it was a “lap 1 racing incident”.

  8. The consistency of stewards has needed an investigation for a long time. There are simply too many suspicious decisions being made.

    It’s a shame the system wasnt overhauled when Masi was removed from his position. It’s just the same old circus with new figureheads.

  9. The incident was not even noted, let alone investigated……………

  10. It’s because the FIA introduced this whole silly thing as a knee jerk reaction to the Grosjean crash and didn’t look into how it might actually work in real life. It’s dumb and needs to be dropped.

  11. Captain_Slow
    30th May 2024, 12:15

    That is a very biased article – I fully get the point you are trying to make and agree that the stewards handing out penalties is inconsistent at best.

    To state that “Magnussen was inarguably the best-placed to avoid it” is a logic that would effectively ban all overtaking in motor racing!

    The fact is that the incident happened as the consequence of the two cars position out of turn 1 on lap 1. We have seen both Hamilton and Perez get away with a lot more dangerous driving the past few races in turn 1 of lap 1, so why things should be different for Perez/Magnussen this time around – I can’t see.

    At Miami Sargeant didn’t see Magnussen and continued the raceline, which is a penalty for the one trying the overtake.
    At Jeddah Magnussen squeezed Albon by continuing the race line, but FIA made it clear he should have given Albon room to race. Even though Albon only had the tip of his front wing alongside Magnussens rear wheel. Magnussen gets penalized.

    At Monaco Perez sees Magnussen trying to overtake on the inside, he then cuts across and is the only driver to put his right hand side tyres clear of the white line (before the pedestrian walk), showing he is actually leaving the raceline to cut Magnussen off sending him into the wall. You honestly believe Magnussen should be penalized for such an unnecessary move by Perez?

    I am sorry, I generally like the articles posted here, but this one is a shot in the dark. Yes it will be interesting to see what the stewards do when Magnussen could or should be penalized, but maybe they actually got this one right?
    If this is about the stewards being wary to hand out the last few penalty point – then why don’t we look at Perez involvement of late? I think there is just as strong an argument that he should feel lucky not reaching the 12 penalty points by now…

    1. Indeed.
      I don’t see how Magnussen’s driving in this instance is in conflict with the sporting regulations.
      The track undulates but it is nowhere near like a corner. Both cars went full throttle and the lateral forces needed to swing through the slight bends is nowhere near the limit of what the cars can handle even at full throttle. It is basically a straight. Magnussen had all the right to expect Pérez would leave enough space.

      The sporting regulations do forbid crowding another car off the track except in special cases like when the leading car is on the racing line towards the exit of a corner. Barring that one should always leave a car’s width to the edge of the track.
      Pérez did not, obviously. Pérez claimed that he could not see Magnussen, but not being able to does not waive any responsibility to follow the rules. Especially during the first lap when you can expect someone will come up beside you when you have a bad exit from the corner.
      The stewards did not investigate and deemed it a racing incident. I think the lucky one with that is Pérez, not Magnussen.

  12. I thought there was room for three cars there and Perez didn’t need to pinch him off so soon. It may have come to that but he wrecked his own car from where I was sitting. At least k-mag is trying to race. It wasn’t something incompetent, especially when there are so few chances. I know many disagree.

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