Should Magnussen be punished for doing Haas’ dirty work?

Kevin Magnussen has performed for Haas on two occasions this season without making any gains. Moreover, those selfless actions were actually at his expense.

At the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, the 31-year-old produced an impressive defensive performance to help team-mate Nico Hulkenberg score Haas' first point of the season. In doing so, the Danish driver incurred several time penalties, picking up three penalty points on his FIA Super License in the process.

The tactics used by Magnussen and Haas in Jeddah divided opinion. For some, he was playing the team game perfectly and should be commended for those efforts. For others, it was against the spirit of the rules.

In fact, he was against it actual The rules, given the time penalties imposed by Magnussen.

The question of whether or not the sanctions applied are correct, or whether they need to be reconsidered, is another quandary for another day. However, had this conversation occurred in the wake of the weekend in Saudi Arabia, what happened in Miami could have been mitigated.

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

This collision was Magnussen's fault and the two additional penalties were fair – but they are just context here, because without this collision, the Haas driver would not have found himself in the position he is in now.

Four goes to 10

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

With Hulkenberg leading seventh – and with two points – the Dane incurred 35 seconds of time penalties in order to keep Lewis Hamilton and Tsunoda back. By repeatedly getting off track, he was able to help his teammate build enough of a gap to hold on to his position.

Magnussen then admitted that every penalty was deserved and that although he did not enjoy the race that way, he was doing it for the good of the team – something Oscar Piastri said set a dangerous precedent.

He angered many in the Formula 1 paddock – including Piastri's boss, Andrea Stella – and was dragged in front of the stewards for his unsporting behaviour. He eventually escaped further punishment, but his multiple penalties came with an additional three points on his premium licence, bringing him to a total of eight points.

A bad error in the Grand Prix, which forced Logan Sargeant to retire in the home race, brought out two more. That leaves Magnussen with 10th place this season, six of which go to Haas and the outgoing Hülkenberg.

The Danish driver must now get through the remainder of the Formula 1 season without making the top 12. If he does, he will be tasked with sitting out one round. Which begs the question: Should Magnussen be punished for doing Haas' dirty work?

© XP Images

Insult to injury

Although Magnussen was not impressed with his defensive tactics, nearly three-quarters of Formula 1 fans surveyed felt the Haas driver was right to strongly defend his position.

However, with recent reports that Zhou Guanyu has emerged as the favorite to partner Oliver Biermann on the US team next season, has Magnussen become the ultimate man of the fall?

Basically, it's starting to shake out like this: Magnussen does Haas' dirty work, imposes penalties for the team, and now, not only does he risk a race ban, he could lose his seat altogether.

On the one hand, Magnussen deliberately fell below his leadership standards, and therefore must face the consequences of his actions.

On the other hand, he is a driver fighting for his team and for his place in Formula 1. Will he be punished for something that is not in his best interests? Isn't there a better way to reprimand Haas?

Politics of denial

Part of the problem is that the team has plausible deniability here. It could be argued that Magnussen is acting on his own and that this is not a coordinated strategy, or even that Hulkenberg would not do the same if the two found themselves in an opposition scenario.

Not to mention the obvious problems: how do you punish Haas, and why isn't Magnussen punished for breaking the rules?

No matter where you stand on this issue, the same problem remains. Until F1 removes the ambiguity and is able to exploit the penalty system in the way Haas did, underhanded tactics will continue to be used.

But as to whether Magnussen has become Haas' downfall man? It is becoming increasingly difficult to argue that it is not so.


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