until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Stupid? Dangerous? Squeezed? Monaco shunt fallout + our takes

6 min read

The extremely destructive first-lap accident that halted the Monaco Grand Prix was all the more notable for the involvement of a driver already on the cusp of a Formula 1 race ban - Haas’s Kevin Magnussen.

His contact with the right rear of Sergio Perez’s car fired the Red Bull into the barriers on the run up Beau Rivage and also took out Magnussen’s team-mate Nico Hulkenberg - who was clipped by the crashing Red Bull and spun around, ending up nose to nose with Magnussen’s car.

All three drivers were ruled out of the restart, which took place almost 45 minutes later after a substantial clear-up operation and barrier repair.

The stewards - in keeping with a standard policy of relative leniency on first-lap incidents (though not always, as Esteban Ocon found out after his clash with Pierre Gasly) - decided no further action was merited, so Magnussen remains two penalty points away from that ban.

The three drivers involved had very different takes on it - here are their views and some of our writers’, too.


In Magnussen’s eyes, Perez had the opportunity to leave him more space alongside and chose not to.

“He clearly wasn’t leaving space,” Magnussen argued. “I thought he would.

“My whole front wheel was ahead of his rear wheel. So I did expect him to be leaving room for one car to his right, especially as he didn’t have anyone on his inside. Then on his left there was a completely clear track.

“He just squeezed me into the wall.”

Magnussen - whose future at Haas beyond 2024 is in doubt - admitted it was “a s***tty, s**tty situation” that the crash had wiped out the entire Haas team, which was already starting from the back row, having been thrown out of qualifying for breaching DRS wing gap size regulations.


I can see why the stewards decided to take no further action given it's the start of the race and cars are jostling for position in the tight confines between the barriers.

But Magnussen took a big risk by putting his fate firstly in Perez's hands and then in the hands of the officials.

He wasn't far enough alongside to justify leaving his car in there. When you're that close to a race ban, sticking your nose into a closing gap like Magnussen did was asking for trouble.


Magnussen is an aggressive driver, and that sometimes works in his favour, but his first-lap crash in Monaco was completely unnecessary. That he has escaped a penalty - and therefore a race ban - for totalling Perez’s RB20 and taking his Haas team-mate out of the race is a mystery.

Moreover, Esteban Ocon was given a five-place grid penalty for his first-lap incident: an ill-judged lunge on team-mate Pierre Gasly that briefly put his own Alpine airborne. That makes the lack of penalty for Magnussen even more baffling.

There isn’t a time nor a place to make either of those moves with these cars in a race like the Monaco Grand Prix, whether it’s lap one or lap 78.


The heavy impact left Perez “a little bit shaky” but unhurt.

And he had absolutely no time for Magnussen’s version of events.

“If you saw my onboard, at no point do you see Kevin’s car,” he said. “Not even close to being alongside me.

“You can see that the wall is just getting closer and closer. To keep it flat-out, there was only one way out of it. It was either contact with my car or the barrier.

“There was just simply no room for both cars and at some point he had to realise that.”

When Magnussen’s suggestion that Perez had squeezed him was put to the Red Bull driver, he was even more unimpressed.

“He clearly shouldn’t be there in the first place because there is just one way to get out of that - you either hit the wall or you hit the right-hand side of my car,” Perez replied.

“How does he want me to leave him room if he’s not even alongside?”

Perez was also underwhelmed by how the stewards handled it.

“I get the lap one grace but I think this was more dangerous driving - to keep it flat-out knowing that contact was going to come at some point was dangerous driving,” he argued.

And his take on Magnussen’s proximity to a race ban was scathing, too.

“I don’t think he really thinks about the outcome,” Perez said.

“You sometimes find yourself in a position and you have to take a very quick decision to say, ‘OK, there is only one way of it and it’s going to be contact, so I have to back out’.

“He will go for the contact.”


The trigger for the first-lap accident was Magnussen heading into a gap that was always closing. However, as Perez did appear to be aware Magnussen was there, he could have played the percentages better by ensuring enough space was left.

As he said, he expected Magnussen to back out, and there's good reasons why Magnussen should have done given he was heading down a cul-de-sac. But you can't always count on that and given Perez was already likely doomed to a pointless race from a lowly starting position, instead of risking having the huge parts-sapping accident he did have, it would have been prudent to have left a little more space.

It's a difficult part of the track to judge so that doesn't make it Perez's fault, but his decision-making process could have been better and potentially ensured the accident never happened. Yes, Magnussen could have done the same as his car positioning was a massive gamble, but just because someone else is risking a collision doesn't mean you don't have the chance to mitigate the risk with your own choices.


As Ayrton Senna said: "If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you're no longer a racing driver."

However, there is a time and a place for everything.

I think both Perez and Magnussen could have reacted a little better and if they had, both could have stayed in the race.

Perez looked in his right-hand mirror so knew that Magnussen was there.

Magnussen knew that the normal racing line was going to get tighter as they went up the hill so could have backed off. But we know Magnussen is not a driver who does that.

So I would say the responsibility was 60% Magnussen, 40% Perez.


Even before the cars came to rest, Hulkenberg was on the team radio saying how unnecessary the crash was - a verdict he reiterated to the media afterwards.

He told Sky Deutschland that the incident was "of course, stupid".

“I saw them racing up the hill. I saw a very sharp narrow gap and I saw that Kevin stayed and that Checo also didn’t move,” he told the written media.

“I don’t know if Checo saw him or not. I think it was unnecessary from both really. It could have been avoided easily.

“Obviously for me, I wasn’t directly involved and it’s the s**ttiest of all. If I would have been like two tenths further up the road, he would have missed me. As it was, he hit me.”

Asked if he could understand Magnussen wanting to make first-lap progress given how hard it is to pass in Monaco, Hulkenberg wasn’t exactly overwhelmingly supportive of his beleaguered team-mate.

“Yeah, of course,” he began. “But nobody has won the Monaco Grand Prix on lap one.

“So you have to take calculated risks and risks that make sense.

“There’s always that risk/reward question that you have to question yourself with.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks