Former Formula 1 driver Jolyon Palmer reckons that the FIA are taking a harsher view on car damage now than they did last year, as evidenced by Kevin Magnussen’s pit stop in Canada.
Magnussen started the Canadian Grand Prix fifth behind the Mercedes of Sir Lewis Hamilton, and the pair found themselves going side-by-side into Turn Three.
As in Barcelona, however, they made contact but, thankfully, neither of them suffered from punctures this time.
Magnussen did have a bit of endplate dangling off his front wing and, though it looked fairly innocuous, he was shown a black and orange flag, forcing him to pit for a new nose.
This followed on from Hamilton’s incident with Max Verstappen in Saudi Arabia towards the end of their mammoth title fight, and he was allowed to stay out with minor damage.
Therefore, as with track limits and race incidents, Palmer believes the governing body are starting to be less lenient with car damage.
“The big one that we saw, just about 10 races ago now, was when Hamilton hit the back of Verstappen in Jeddah,” he said during his analysis for F1TV.
“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.”
Magnussen’s issue took place one week on from Yuki Tsunoda’s rear wing snap in Baku, and the Japanese driver was told to pit so that the mechanics could tape it shut.
“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,” added Palmer.
“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.”
Team-mate Mick Schumacher had started behind Magnussen in sixth in Montreal, equalling their best-ever overall qualifying result, but the American outfit’s race unravelled before their eyes.
The Dane’s pit stop would eventually see him finish P17, while the 23-year-old retired from the race with a reliability failure having been running in the top 10.
While there will be natural frustration at the results, there is promise to be found in the overall performance for the Banbury-based team after the horror show of last year.
“[There have been] a couple of incidents for Magnussen with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes,” continued Palmer.
“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.”
Magnussen has put 15 points on the board for Haas this year, but Lance Stroll’s P10 in Canada moved Aston Martin above them and into eighth in the Constructors’ Standings.