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Albon warns over Magnussen ploy

NEWS STORY
17/03/2024

Alex Albon fears that without FIA intervention others may now copy the ploy used by Haas and Kevin Magnussen in Jeddah in using a penalty in order to gain an advantage.

At the restart following the withdrawal of the Safety Car after Lance Stroll's crash, the Dane collided with Alex Albon at Turn 4, the stewards deeming that in giving the Williams driver insufficient space warranted 10s penalty and 3 penalty points.

But wait, there's more.

In the same incident, the Haas driver sought to overtake Yuki Tsunoda and in the process left the track, failing to give the position back the stewards deemed he had therefore gained a lasting advantage and hit him with another 10s penalty.

With the 20s handicap effectively ruling him out of the race, Magnussen was ordered to ride shotgun for his teammate Nico Hulkenberg and slow the field behind in order that the German might build a sufficient comfort cushion.

The ploy worked and Hulkenberg finished tenth, 12s ahead of Albon who came home 17s ahead of the second Haas.

"Magnussen drove off the track to deliberately put himself in front of Yuki and then slowed him down by up to two seconds a lap," argued RB's sporting director, Alan Permane, "which allowed Hulkenberg, who hadn't stopped yet, to create a gap and of course pit in front of all the cars behind.

"That, to me, doesn't seem correct," he added, "and is the very definition of unsportsmanlike behaviour. I'm sure we and other teams will talk to the FIA about it for future races."

"It was pretty frustrating," admitted Tsunoda, "probably my mistake was I let Kevin by. But at the same time, he overtook me with all four wheels outside off the track.

"OK, he got a 20-second penalty but he was just cruising around," added the Japanese. "That's a bit unfair but at the same time, the truth is I also let him go, so that was my mistake."

However, Albon fears that with the Haas tactic going unpunished others may adopt the same ploy.

"That was fair," he said about the penalty for the collision. "It happens, a bit of a squeeze...

"I don't like how that corner is shaped," he added. "It sticks out to you. I think it's very misleading. You've got to leave more space than you realise, because of how it sticks out at the end there. They could just shave it flat, I think that would be easier. No hard feelings."

However...

"The other one was a bit cheeky," added the Williams driver, "the other 10-second one with Yuki. I mean, you basically guarantee your team-mate points for a 10-second penalty. Why wouldn't you do that everywhere?

"I don't think five to 10 seconds is correct. I think it needs to be you must return the position back, and just leave it like that."

That said, the Thai star understands that with such a tight, competitive midfield, teams are going to take advantage of any opportunity that comes their way.

"You saw it this weekend. I think any team would do the same thing, if you sacrifice one driver for guaranteed points. Maybe the top teams won't do it. But the midfield teams who need to take points at any opportunity, you would do it every single time. I think you might see more drivers doing it just to guarantee a team-mate to have points."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 13/03/2024 18:31

"This can be sorted by the penalty being applied and must be served no later than three laps from when it was applied i.e. putting the time penalty to a drive through or, having those "slow zones" like MotoGP use.
The slow zone idea would be a fairer way to apply the penalty, as drive through take more than 5 or 10 seconds and the impact of the penalty would be more immediately noted for the results.
The down site will be that we wouldn't see those chasing trying to get within say 5 seconds of the driver in front, which can be quite entertaining.
In the Haas example, the driver didn't do anything that would be considered bad or dangerous driving and no doubt he'd rather be fighting for points himself."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Forza Minardi, 13/03/2024 16:24

"Remove the ability to serve the penalty as time added on after the race, unless there are fewer than X laps left. Disqualification after X number of laps if a penalty isn't served - if it means an additional pit-stop to serve it, tough, don't break the rules. I understand why KMag/Haas did what they did, but it left a sour taste in the mouth."

Rating: Positive (6)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Dirt, 13/03/2024 16:20

"I agree that Magnussen should have given back any place that he gained by passing off track, and I'm surprised there was no direction from Race Control to do so. Is it not within their jurisdiction to direct a car to give back a place gained via an off track pass?

Regarding Magnussen holding up Tsunoda, I call it fair. Tactics have always been a part of F1 and why shouldn't a team use one car to help another if circumstances call for it and it can be done fairly? Never mind that you can't really call it holding another driver up if the trailing driver can't pull off a pass. As long as the driving remains clean, and the trailing driver can't pull of a pass that sticks, what rule or ethical norm is being breached? None, as far as I can see. I recall one Fernando Alonso parking it on the apex of every corner at Imloa(?) for enough laps that he held off Michael Schumacher for the win. Should we go back and penalize Alonso?"

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4. Posted by ffracer, 13/03/2024 14:12

"Totally agree with what KMag / Haas did, it was brilliant ( F1 is all about a litany of rules and exposing loopholes) but RB and Williams' stance on this issue is correct. This must be addressed immediately and not the typical FIA process (2025) as the teams' anger, vindictiveness and crash damage will mount. Albon's suggestion that the place be given back immediately should include a caveat that noncompliance be an immediate stop n go or exclusion from the results depending on severity or lap of the race. In any event, this rule must be repealed immediately. "

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5. Posted by Spindoctor, 13/03/2024 13:45

"Shoddy stuff from Magnussen. I know that F1 is now mainly just a boring & expensive trailer for DTS, but surely it should maintain at least the fašade of being a "Sport". These "non-penalty" penalties don't seem to be having what one assumes to be the desired effect.
In these situations, where advantage is *deliberately* gained by going off-track it seems obvious that at the least the place(s) should be returned to the illicitly passed driver(s). Then a penalty of (say) 10 seconds could be applied, if desirable, as a punishment\warning to be good in future."

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6. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 13/03/2024 13:30

"Have to agree here, in both cases K Mag should have been instructed to let the cars re-pass him. "

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