Perez and Magnussen’s Monaco GP crash analysis

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

Mag Perez crash

The crash between Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez was the most exciting part of what was an otherwise very dull Monaco Grand Prix.

Here’s my analysis of the crash, who I think was to blame and my thoughts on whether the stewards made the right decision after the dust had settled.

Making moves at Monaco

The Monaco Grand Prix is the most difficult Formula 1 circuit to overtake on. That means the first lap can be crucial; any cheeky overtakes a driver can get in during the chaotic opening lap can pay dividends come the end of the race.

Sure enough this year was no different. There were only 4 overtakes in the entire race which all took place lower down the field. The top-10 finishing positions were exactly as they started.

With the processional nature of the Grand Prix in mind, the drivers would do whatever they could to grab a position at the start.

Qualifying

There were three drivers involved in the crash. This is where they started the race:

  • Sergio Perez – 16th
  • Nico Hulkenberg – 19th
  • Kevin Magnussen – 20th

The two HAAS drivers started on the back row as they were disqualified from qualifying for running illegal rear wings. Their actual qualifying times would have put them in 12th and 15th repectively, and had they not have been disqualified this incident wouldn’t have occured.

The race start

When the lights went out both HAAS drivers managed to get ahead of the Sauber of Zhou by the time they reached the first corner of Sainte Devote. Bottas in the other Sauber had a good start and managed to pass Perez.

Monaco Crash F1

That put Perez on the outside of the circuit on the exit of Turn 1 and comprimised his exit. He struggled for traction and was slightly delayed getting on the power, meaning he was vulnerable on the run up the hill of Beau Rivage after the first corner.

Monaco Crash F1

Beau Rivage

When you look at a circuit map of Monaco, it looks like the run between Sainte Devote and Massenet is fairly straight, with a few innocuous looking wiggles. 

Monaco map

The F1 cars are doing over 150mph before they reach Massenet and at those speeds navigating the right-left-right-left of Beau Rivage requires very minimal steering input, all whilst the drivers are flat out.

However, this section is definitely not a straight.  The satellite image below shows how much the track turns one way then another along Beau Rivage.

Monaco map 2

All of that means that getting two cars side-by-side along here is risky business. The circuit has no run-off and is lined with armco barriers, meaning any drivers trying to go two-abreast have to give each other some room.

The crash

With Perez getting a slow run out of Turn 1, Magnussen sniffed an opportunity on the run up Beau Rivage. Perez moved to the middle of the circuit but K-Mag moved further to the right as they headed up the hill.

The image below shows Perez starts in the middle lane and Kevin is straddling the middle and right lane.

Monaco GP crash

A short way further up the hill Perez moves further to the right. Magnussen’s front left wheel is now overlapping Perez’ rear right, and with Sergio having moved over further Kevin is forced right up close to the barrier.

As they go further up the hill towards the right hand kink, Perez moves even slightly further to the right. K-Mag is now brushing the barrier on the right hand side of the circuit and has no where else to go.

Monaco GP

The natural racing line through here is not to follow the painted lane markings, but instead to drive in more of a straight line, as the pink line on the image below shows.

The only way for two cars to go through this section alongside is if the one on the left doesn’t take the normal racing line, but instead follows the painted lines on the circuit a little more closely.

But Perez doesn’t do that. The onboard shot below shows his wheel is still turned slightly right and he’s aiming towards the edge of the barrier on the right hand side, rather than following the lines on the road to give K-Mag some space.

Perez monaco

And Magnussen being Magnussen, he keeps his foot in it. Despite being squeezed up against the barrier he doesn’t lift off. And with the right-hand kink approaching, that’s a recipe for trouble.

With K-Mag keeping his foot in it and Perez closing the gap as they approach the right hander, the inevitable happens. 

Monaco GP crash

The two cars make contact at high speed and plow in to the barrier. The result is a devastating amount of damage to the Red Bull and retirement for both drivers.

Zhou was behind the accident and his onboard shows the substantial damage to Perez’s car.

Crash damage

The unfortunate victim in the incident was Magnussen’s teammate Hulkenberg. He was right behind the crash, and as the two cars hit the barrier a gap opened up for him on the left.

He tried to accelerate through the gap, but the two cars bounced off the right hand side barrier back towards him. He almost made it, but Perez’s car just clipped Hulk’s right rear wheel, as you can see in the image below.

Monaco crash 2

So both HAAS drivers and Perez were out of the race, but thankfully uninjured.

Perez knew he was there

Perez knew he got a poor exit from the first corner, and would be vulnerable up the hill to Beau Rivage.

Onboards from his car show he looked in his right mirror three times between exiting Turn 1 and making contact with Magnussen.

Perez

His final mirror check was less than a second before they made contact. He knew he was there, so must have known that if he took his normal line they were going to make contact.

K-Mag should have lifted

To say Kevin was in a tight spot was would be an understatement. He put himself in a very risky position, and when it quickly became clear that Perez wasn’t going to leave him enough space he should have backed out of it.

Magnussen

Considering he’s also only two penalty points away from a race ban, you would have liked to think he’d have approached this situation with a little more discretion. But this is K-Mag, and it seems he’d rather crash than lift.

Stewards' decision & inconsistencies

The stewards deemed this was a racing incident and no investigation was necessary. But if we look back at the Miami Grand Prix when Magnussen crashed with Sargeant, we can see how inconsistent that decision appears.

In that crash, Magnussen was halfway alongside Sargeant through a left-right S bend. He was on Sargeant’s right, the outside for the left hander and the inside for the right hander. 

K-Mag was further alongside in the Miami crash (see image below), but Sargeant took his normal racing line and the two drivers made contact, putting them both out of the race. The Stewards deemed Magnussen was at fault, wasn’t far enough alongside, and penalised him heavily.

Magnussen Sargeant Miami GP crash

Ok, so the corner at Miami was more distinct. But the run up Beau Rivage in Monaco is still a series of S-bends and not that dissimilar. If Magnussen was at fault for not being far enough alongside in Miami then surely he had even less right to keep his foot in in Monaco, when he wasn’t anywhere near as far along.

Who's to blame?

Perez knew Magnussen was there so should have unquestionably given K-Mag some more space, whether or not he had any right to it.

Magnussen should have backed out of it. He knows the circuit and he knows the track kinks right. He put himself in a huge amount of risk and the result was a huge crash. 

Both drivers should have put their racing driver egos aside and done more to avoid crashing. But I think the stewards should have investigated it, and if they wanted to remain consistent, penalised Magnussen.

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Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport guides based on my own experience as a racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who want to learn more about racing.

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