Is Kevin Magnussen a dangerous driver?
Recently, Kevin Magnussen has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons. At the Japanese Grand Prix, he (arguably) caused a crash between himself and future Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, in an incident which ended the Dane's race and one that many called dangerous.
However, Magnussen has not only had a very strong season this year, but had a great early career in the junior formulas, good enough to be added to McLaren's junior programme. He was then deemed good enough to replace experienced driver Sergio Perez at McLaren for 2014, scoring a podium on his debut.
In my opinion, I some of his moves have been questionable, so there is at least part of a reason for him to alter the way that he goes about racing. Let me explain.
Where did this all start?
The first time that Magnussen caused quite a bit of controversy (on track) in his Formula One career came at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2017, where he forced Renault's Nico Hulkenberg off the circuit when they were side by side, as you can see in the video above. From the video, it is clear to see that Magnussen was in the wrong and deserved his five second penalty.
However, Magnussen did not own up to his mistake, and when approached by Hulkenberg in the post race interviews, he told the German, and I quote, to "suck my balls":
“I am not here to make friends. I am not here to please anyone. I am here to get results. What he says doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care what he thinks. What matters to me is that I get the most out of myself and my racing.”
Hulkenberg then went on to call him a "wannabe Verstappen", and a "hot head".
Alonso: "Hulkenberg is right."
Later that year, Magnussen was involved in yet another incident, this time with Fernando Alonso, and as you can imagine, the Spaniard was not happy. In the incident, Magnussen yet again forces another driver off the circuit when defending his position, which for some people is good racing, but for others it is completely against the rules.
Yet again, Magnussen defended himself and didn't take any blame, even going as far as to say penalties were "nonsense": "People must not think that the highway is more dangerous than what we do."
"On the track, we have too many rules. Clearly we need rules, but not every single maneuver (should be) questioned. The fact that you are not allowed to push anyone out of the track on a straight line is reasonable. But there is a lot of stuff that is complete nonsense.
"They should just let us fight our battles on the track."
These are strong words from the Dane, which shows that he is committed to the sport, but is he risking too much, just to make F1 "look even cooler"?
He has supported and stood behind his own moves where he has pushed drivers off the track, and this was why he was ok with Verstappen pushing him onto the grass in Monza, as that is "racing". This is evidence that clearly shows he believes in what he is doing, and that F1 drivers should be more aggressive when racing. Do you agree with him?
Ok, Kevin, this one you have no defence for. Only part of the incident is shown in the video above, so click this link to watch the full thing. The video shows that this incident was dangerous, and could have caused a huge crash. It has similarities to Magnussen's other incidents, but as Baku is a street circuit there is nowhere for Gasly to go, apart from the wall.
This move earned K-Mag a ten second time penalty, which meant that he ended up finishing one position behind Gasly. As you would expect however, this did nothing to calm the 2019 Red Bull driver: “Kevin is the most dangerous guy I have ever raced with,” blasted Gasly. “He literally put me in the wall at 300 kph at the re-start and completely ruined the race. I would have been in the worst case P10 at the last restart, so this is one thing. "
“The Safety Car came out, we pitted and were P11. I knew points were on the table. I was going to pass him just before the Safety Car line 1, went on the side, and he just put me in the wall right in the middle and took half of my floor out. "
“Both my front wheels went in the air, broke my right mirror and bent my steering as well. After that I was just trying to survive until the end of the race. There was almost no point to race after that."
The most recent crash: Japan
This is Magnussen's most recent display of dangerous driving, and you can watch the video here.
Sauber team boss Fred Vasseur labelled Magnussen as 'f***ing dangerous" after the incident, where he was leading Leclerc down the main straight, when Leclerc began to pull alongside. Magnussen also moved in the same direction and the two collided, with Leclerc obtaining front wing damage and Magnussen suffering a puncture. However, when the incident was investigated, no action was taken against either driver.
When queried about the incident, Vasseur was pulling no punches about who he thought was to blame for the incident: "From my point of view it was quite obvious, but there was no further action."
"He [Magnussen] is involved in all the big crashes throughout the season, if you have a look. I'm not the referee, it's the FIA - they have to take decisions or not. The move was f***ing dangerous, he's moving always late, and one day we'll have a huge crash. When you are at 320km/h, it's more than dangerous."
Race director Charlie Whiting clarified why no further action was taken: "If you analyse it very, very carefully, what you see is two cars coming down with Kevin not moving, and then Charles catches, catches, catches, he decides to go to the right, and at exactly the same time, on the video, one frame, there’s one frame difference, then Kevin moves."
"I think it’s impossible to say that Kevin blocked him, it was just he made the decision that he was going to go right, fractionally after Charles had."
After all of this, does Magnussen need to change? Is he dangerous?
Firstly, before I start my conclusion to this article, let me make one thing clear: I think Kevin Magnussen is a good driver who fully deserves his seat in Formula One. Right, now that's out of the way, let me begin.
I might as well get this out of the way, and that is that I think that Magnussen has become a bit too dangerous, or to more accurately put it, aggressive. This is because of the moves that he has made on other drivers, as I have shown above, but also because it is a different type of aggression to that of Hamilton or Verstappen. What I mean by this is that when the two I mentioned are defending a position, they know the limits, and if they make a mistake they admit it (well, most of the time in Verstappen's case anyway). This is in comparison to K-Mag, who has said on numerous occasions that he thinks pushing other drivers off the track is acceptable, and not once have you heard him take the blame for an incident. The incidents he has caused so far have been relatively minor, but if this petulance and arrogance continues you would have to think he will be the cause of a much bigger accident.
However, all of the above being said, his technique is working for him. He has consistently been finishing higher than Grosjean this season, even if the latter is making somewhat of a resurgence in the last few races. He has been a key factor in Haas' great season this year, and you have to think that without him the team would be much worse off.
Magnussen having the aggressive style that he does also makes the racing much more exciting, as I am not sure about you but whenever I see him fighting with another driver he has me on the edge of my seat. This is arguably part of what Formula One needs, and taking risks is what got many top drivers where they are today. If Magnussen can tone it down a little and be a bit more precise with his maneuvers, he definitely has the potential to be a race winner, maybe even a world champion.
What do you think?
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