Gary Anderson: Haas’s ‘over the top’ penalties are self-inflicted

Haas Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnussen criticised the decision to give him a black-and-orange flag during the Singapore Grand Prix because a damaged front wing as “way over the top”.

The Dane clipped the rear of Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin at Turn 10 on the opening lap, leaving the endplate on the left side of the front wing at an angle. He was issued the ‘meatball’ flag as a result, forcing him to pit for a new nose assembly at the end of lap seven.

Max Verstappen was investigated for potentially having caused a collision with Magnussen exiting Turn 7 earlier in the lap, but no penalty was issued for the “minor” tyre-to-tyre contact and this was not the incident that led to the wing damage.

Magnussen’s early pitstop relegated him to last place, meaning he was unable to threaten the points and finished only 12th.

“I didn’t even notice, everyone was close for a whole lap so I didn’t notice I had that contact,” said Magnussen.

“I couldn’t feel anything in the car and the team told me that the damage was minor and it was on that endplate thing, which we’ve explained to the FIA is tethered in. The FIA should know that, they make the regulations.

“That part doesn’t come off, so it’s not a safety concern. Today, it wasn’t even flapping.

“It’s way over the top to give me the black-and-orange flag.”

Gary Anderson: Haas’s ‘over the top’ penalties are self-inflicted

This was the third time Magnussen has been forced into the pits by the flag this season following earlier incidents in Canada and Hungary.

This led to the dialogue with the FIA Magnussen referenced about not needing to flag cars with such damage.

Magnussen says he intends to raise the matter again on the basis that drivers should be able to fight on track without fear of having to pit thanks to minor damage.

“Hopefully we can talk to them again,” said Magnussen. “Hopefully they can realise what this is all about, because you’ve got to be able to have a scratch on your car. This is F1, you’ve got to be able to fight.”

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner was also unimpressed with the black-and-orange flag having previously objected to its use his season.

“Again, we received a black and orange flag, now for the third time, when there is no need for it,” he said.

“We have made it very clear to the FIA on the past two occasions and it’s just like you have your back against the wall.”

Gary Anderson’s verdict

Gary Anderson: Haas’s ‘over the top’ penalties are self-inflicted

I can sympathise with Magnussen being upset with getting the black-and-orange flag, but the reality of it is that the front wing was damaged.

Yes, it looked like it was only the endplate, but it could very easily be a lot more serious than that, or it could have simply come off and cut a front tyre, sending him into the barrier and disrupting the whole race.

If the front-wing mounting system had been structurally damaged, it could then have fallen off at any point in time and caused serious consequences.

Lewis Hamilton had the same scenario when he ran into the TecPro barrier, and to be honest I was glad to see him pit more or less immediately to get a new one fitted. I know the damage looked a lot worse, but there is no way of knowing the extent of the damage from the pits. Just because that kind of endplate damage will usually hold together, it doesn’t mean it always will.

In my time, I have had wing failures and I guarantee that the outcome is not pretty and the driver simply becomes a passenger. You just have to think back to Grosjean’s accident in Bahrain in 2020 to see the potential outcome.

Consistency is the big thing with any regulation, so going forward the FIA needs to apply this black-and-orange flag to any situation where it looks like a car is damaged. In Magnussen’s case, this is the third time he’s been shown it this year so you can argue that is being consistent, even though he argues it’s unnecessary.

But actually, the team should be responsible in the first instance, and if they don’t take action, then it should be down to the FIA to step in. After all, safety is paramount.

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