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Kevin Magnussen

Should Magnussen be punished for doing Haas' dirty work?

Kevin Magnussen is precariously close to a race ban, but given he was acting for the good of Haas, should he be the one who is punished?

KMAG Miami
To news overview © XPBimages

Kevin Magnussen has done Haas' bidding on two occasions this season for no gain. Further still, those selfless acts have actually been to his detriment.

At the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the 31-year-old put on a defensive masterclass to help team-mate Nico Hulkenberg score Haas' first point of the season. In doing so, the Danish driver incurred multiple time penalties, racking up three penalty points on his FIA super licence in the process.

The tactics employed by Magnussen and Haas in Jeddah divided opinion. To some, he was playing the team game perfectly and should be lauded for this efforts. To others, it was against the spirit of the rules. 

In reality, it was against the actual rules, given Magnussen's time penalties.

The question as to whether or not the punishments applied were correct or whether they need to be reviewed is another quandary for another day. However, had that conversation happened in the wake of the weekend in Saudi Arabia, what came to pass in Miami might have been mitigated.

Fast forward to the start of that weekend in Florida, and Magnussen found himself on five of a possible 12 penalty points, in part due to an incident with Yuki Tsunoda at the Chinese Grand Prix. 

That collision was Magnussen's fault and the two additional sanctions were fair - but it merely serves as context here, as without that crash, the Haas driver would not find himself in quite the situation he now does.

Four going on 10

During the Miami Grand Prix sprint, Magnussen took the successful Saudi Arabian strategy to the extreme.

With Hulkenberg ahead in seventh - and on for two points - the Dane incurred 35 seconds of time penalties to keep Lewis Hamilton and Tsunoda behind. In repeatedly going off track, he was able to help his team-mate build enough of a gap to hold onto his position.

Afterwards, Magnussen admitted that each penalty was deserved and whilst he did not enjoy racing in such a way, he was doing it for the good of the team - something Oscar Piastri has argued sets a dangerous precedent.

He caught the ire of many in the F1 paddock, including Piastri's boss, Andrea Stella, and was dragged before the stewards for unsportsmanlike behaviour. He ultimately escaped further punishment, but his multiple-time penalties did come with three more points on his super licence, bringing him to a total of eight.

A poor error in the grand prix, which forced Logan Sargeant into retirement at his home race, brought two more. That leaves Magnussen on 10 for the season, six of which were for the betterment of Haas and outgoing Hulkenberg. 

The Danish driver must now navigate the remainder of the F1 season without reaching 12. If he does, he will be mandated to sit out a round. This begs the question: should Magnussen be punished for doing Haas' dirty work?

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Insult to injury

Despite Magnussen being less-than-impressed with his own defensive techniques, almost three-quarters of F1 fans polled felt the Haas driver was right to aggressively defend his position.

However, with recent reports that Zhou Guanyu is emerging as the favourite to partner Oliver Bearman at the American team next season, is Magnussen becoming the ultimate fall guy?

Essentially, it is starting to shake out like this: Magnussen is doing Haas' dirty work, racking up penalties to benefit the team and now, not only does he face the risk of a race ban, he might also lose his seat altogether.

On the one hand, Magnussen went low with his driving standards knowingly and should therefore face the consequences of his actions.

On the other, he is a driver who is fighting for his team and for his place in F1. Should he be punished for something that has no advantage to him? Is there not some better way to reprimand Haas?

Plausible deniability

Part of the problem is that the team has plausible deniability here. It could say Magnussen acts of his own accord and that it is not a concerted strategy, or even that Hulkenberg would not do the same if the two found themselves in the opposition scenario.

Not to mention the obvious problems of: how would you punish Haas, and why should Magnussen not be penalised for breaking the rules?

Regardless of where you land on the issue, the problem itself remains. Until F1 cleans up the ambiguity and the ability to exploit the penalty system in the way that Haas has, underhand tactics will continue to be used.

But as for whether Magnussen is becoming Haas' fall guy? It is becoming increasingly difficult to argue he is not.

Also interesting:

In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look ahead at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The trio discuss last season's cancelled race at Imola, whether McLaren's Miami pace is genuine and if Mercedes teenage sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli will make his debut before he turns 18.

Want to watch the podcast instead of just listening? Check it out here.

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