Stella calls for clamp down on ‘unacceptable’ tactics

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MIAMI — McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has called on the FIA to clamp down on the “unacceptable” tactics employed by Kevin Magnussen at the Miami Grand Prix sprint race, after the Haas driver accrued four time penalties to help teammate Nico Hulkenberg finish in the points.

Magnussen was racing with Lewis Hamilton for the final point on offer in the sprint race and received three 10-second penalties for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

After he received the first one, which dropped him out of contention for points, he intentionally drove off the track to gain an advantage in order to protect teammate Hulkenberg, who was ahead of him on track in seventh place.

Magnussen caused a similar controversy at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix by accruing penalties to create a buffer to Hulkenberg, and admitted after Saturday’s sprint race race that the tactic was “stupid.

“I was really vulnerable to Lewis, so I had to just create the gap like I did in Jeddah and start using these stupid tactics which I don’t like doing,” Magnussen said. “But at the end of the day I did my job as a team player and Nico scored his points because I got that gap for him.

The stewards issued Magnussen with three penalty points on his superlicence for the third of the three infringements — putting him five penalty points away from a race ban — but McLaren’s Stella believes the sanction should have been harsher.

“For me it’s relatively simple, this case,” Stella said. “We have a case of behaviour being intentional, in terms of damaging another competitor. This behaviour is perpetuated within the same race and repeated over the same season.

“How can penalties be cumulative? They should be exponential. It should not be five plus five plus five equals 15 seconds, but five plus five plus five should equal maybe you need to spend a weekend at home with your family, reflect on your sportsmanship and then come back.

“If we see that you become loyal, fair and sportsmanlike to your fellow competitors then you can stay in this business. It’s completely unacceptable.”

On Saturday evening, the stewards investigated whether Magnussen’s behaviour could be considered “unsportsmanlike” under the FIA’s International Sporting Code, but came to the conclusion that his actions were not severe enough to be considered a breach. However, the stewards said they would talk to the FIA to raise the possibility of harsher penalties for repeat offenders at future races.

Stella hopes the fallout from Magnussen’s tactics will force change for future races.

“I’m sure they [the FIA] are going to look into that, and by offering a strong opinion, I want to reiterate that these values of being fair and it being a sport, we need to give everyone a fair chance to compete,” he said.

“They need to be taken into account in creating the appropriate set of regulations, and I’m sure the FIA will look into that to create a sensible proposal for the Sporting Advisory Committee to evaluate, and hopefully this will soon become either rules or guidelines that the stewards can apply.”

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