Jolyon Palmer believes the FIA are clamping down on damaged cars on track more, citing the example of Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.
Magnussen picked up some front wing damage while battling Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap in Montreal, with his right-side endplate flapping about following the contact between the two cars.
Esteban Ocon, following behind in his Alpine, radioed in to his engineer to complain about the danger of the endplate falling off and hitting him, with the black and orange flag being shown to Magnussen shortly after. This flag is an instruction from Race Control to come in and repair the damage.
Magnussen did so on Lap 7, falling to the very back of the field as a result of the timing of the forced stop. His afternoon was ruined from there, with the Danish driver coming home in 17th place at the chequered flag.
Magnussen was particularly annoyed by the enforced stop, feeling that the damage had in no way been dangerous or compromising to his own pace.
Palmer, analysing the race for F1TV, said Magnussen’s damage was no worse than what Lewis Hamilton picked up after striking the back of Max Verstappen‘s Red Bull in Jeddah last season – a race that Hamilton won and was crucial to keep the title fight alive.
“The big one that we saw, just about 10 races ago now, was when Hamilton hit the back of Verstappen in Jedda,” he said.
“Now Lewis didn’t have to pit and didn’t get a black and orange flag for damage that looked pretty similar to Magnussen in the Haas this year.
“The damage was very similar, and Hamilton crucially didn’t have to pit to sort that out, he could stay on and win the race.
“It could have been so different if Hamilton had to pit to sort that out. So maybe [it’s] the FIA just tightening that up. It’s a safety issue, a potential safety issue, in calling Magnussen into the pits.”
With the FIA making root-and-branch changes across race governance over the winter, in light of the fallout from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Palmer suspects it’s another area the governing body are clamping down to ensure the letter of the regulations is followed.
“Maybe we’re going to see more drivers get these black and orange flags because now, twice in a row, with Yuki Tsunoda’s rear wing in Baku and Magnussen’s front wing in Montreal, it’s derailed their entire Grand Prix for a little bit of damage,” he said.
“On one hand, you’d say ‘OK, fair enough’. That maybe could go a little bit further, that could be a hazard for the driver behind and so you can understand, in one respect, the black and orange flag but we haven’t seen many of these flags for front wing damages before. Magnussen wasn’t shedding parts, it was just flailing around a little bit.”
With Magnussen’s fifth-place grid start potential going begging as a result of the incident, Palmer said it’s perhaps time for his former team-mate to see a little more circumspect when it comes to starting a race.
“[There’s been] a couple of incidents for Magnussen with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes,” he said.
“He is so excited at the front of the grid. It’s great to see him at the front of the grid again on his return, he seems a rejuvenated driver and we have seen also the good side of him fighting at the front this year and this was another one.
“I’m sure Guenther Steiner and Haas are very frustrated because they’re dropping points and they’ve got a car that has some performance. But when Kevin does get it right, it’s very good.
“It’s just sometimes fighting corners that are probably a lost cause against the Mercedes which is also fundamentally a much quicker car than the Haas. So a bit of frustration there I think for Magnussen and Haas will just be hoping they can get these qualified positions again and just have a cleaner first lap because, a couple of times in a row, it’s cost them.”