Steiner: Magnussen’s wild reputation is wrong

Kevin Magnussen won’t win any popularity contests among his Formula 1 rivals but Haas team chief Guenther Steiner believes that the Dane has an unfair reputation, citing super-licence penalty points as proof.

Strife and clashes between Magnussen and fellow drivers are well documented, but his boss Steiner stands by his man, “Let’s put that one right: he is the guy with the least penalties.”

The “penalties” he is referring to are the points drivers receive on their super-licences, the punishment meted out by FIA race stewards for their on-track shenanigans.

Along with Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo, Magnussen has only two penalty points – least of their peers, while Haas teammate Romain Grosjean, Lance Stroll and Max Verstappen top the table with seven penalty-points each.

It was not a given that 26-year-old Magnussen would be retained by the American team beyond last season, but Steiner ignored the bad press and kept the faith.

He told Motorsport Network, “He somehow got such a bad reputation and the perception is out there that he’s this guy which is just wild. Which is wrong.

“Because look at the statistics. We must be objective. Not subjective. Objective is: how many penalties has he got?”

Although Magnussen scored 52 of his team’s 93 points, 80% of these were scored during the first half of the season prompting suggestions he tends to lose interest midway through seasons.

But Steiner rubbished the idea, “There is this thing out there that Kevin Magnussen’s second half of the season always is bad. Again, where is this coming from?”

“He has done some good races in the second half of the season [in 2018]. Was he as good as the first half? No. But I would not jump to the conclusion that it has to be like this.”

“I don’t think he is as bad as people make him out to be. He’s a racer. He drives. He fights for his territory. And that’s what we pay him to do actually. We don’t want somebody who gets passed by everybody.”

Along with Mercedes, Haas will field the same driver line-up as last year in 2019 while the other eight teams will deal with new drivers in their garages.

This shows the belief that Steiner has in Romain Grosjean who had a wayward spell before composing himself and finishing the season strongly.

It was a rough patch for Grosjean whose reputation as a “first-lap nutcase” came back to haunt him, but again Steiner played down the saga, “Let’s not exaggerate. It was not huge, tremendous or whatever. He had a dip. Leave it at that. It was a dip.”

“He lost the key, he found the key. I don’t know what it is and that’s honest. He said: I found the key again. Since then it was good,” added Steiner of the erratic Frenchman.

Current penalty points per driver and the reasons for each penalty:

Driver

Points

Given

Race

Reason

Expires

Romain Grosjean

7

2

Spanish GP

Collision

13-May-19

2

French GP

Collision

24-Jun-19

2

Singapore GP

Ignoring blue flags

16-Sep-19

1

US GP

Collision

21-Oct-19

Max Verstappen

7

2

Chinese GP

Collision

15-Apr-19

2

Italian GP

Collision

02-Sep-19

2

Singapore GP

Ignoring yellow flags

29-Sep-19

1

Japanese GP

Unsafe rejoining of track

07-Oct-19

Lance Stroll

7

3

Austrian GP

Ignoring blue flags

01-Jul-19

2

Japanese GP

Forcing driver off track

07-Oct-19

2

US GP

Collision

21-Oct-19

Sergey Sirotkin

6

2

Azerbaijan GP

Collision

29-Apr-19

2

French GP

Too slow under SC

24-Jun-19

2

Singapore GP

Forcing driver off track

16-Sep-19

Brendon Hartley

6

2

Bahrain GP

Did not re-establish starting order

08-Apr-19

2

Bahrain GP

Collision

08-Apr-19

2

Mexican GP

Collision

28-Oct-19

Esteban Ocon

6

2

Japanese GP

Too fast under red

06-Oct-19

3

Brazilian GP

Collision

11-Nov-19

1

Abu Dhabi GP

Gaining advantage off track

25-Nov-19

Fernando Alonso

6

1

Japanese GP

Gaining advantage off track

07-Oct-19

2

Brazilian GP

Ignoring blue flags

11-Nov-19

3×1

Abu Dhabi GP

Gaining advantage off track

25-Nov-19

Marcus Ericsson

5

3

Chinese GP

Too fast under double yellows

14-Apr-19

2

Azerbaijan GP

Collision

29-Apr-19

Sergio Perez

5

2

Azerbaijan GP

Overtaking before SC line

29-Apr-19

3

Singapore GP

Collision

16-Sep-19

Sebastian Vettel

5

2

French GP

Collision

24-Jun-19

1

Austrian GP

Blocking

30-Jun-19

2

US GP

Too fast under red

19-Oct-19

Pierre Gasly

4

2

Chinese GP

Collision

15-Apr-19

2

British GP

Collision

08-Jul-19

Valtteri Bottas

4

2

Hungarian GP

Collision

29-Jul-19

2

Belgian GP

Collision

26-Aug-19

Nico Hulkenberg

3

3

Belgian GP

Collision

26-Aug-19

Carlos Sainz

3

2

German GP

Overtaking under SC

22-Jul-19

1

US GP

Gaining advantage off track

21-Oct-19

Stoffel Vandoorne

3

1

Spanish GP

Did not keep right of bollard

13-May-19

2

Brazilian GP

Ignoring blue flags

11-Nov-19

Kevin Magnussen

2

2

Azerbaijan GP

Collision

29-Apr-19

Kimi Raikkonen

2

2

British GP

Collision

08-Jul-19

Daniel Ricciardo

2

2

Australian GP

Too fast under red

23-Mar-19