Haas team principal Günther Steiner believes Kevin Magnussen has become an easy target for criticism from fellow Formula 1 drivers following a spate of controversial incidents. 

Magnussen has come under fire regarding his driving standards after a series of incidents during the opening five races of the campaign, most notably a high-speed run-in with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly in Baku. After picking up a 10-second time penalty and two penalty points, Magnussen apologised to Gasly, who had branded the Dane as one of the most dangerous drivers on the grid. 

The Haas driver was also involved in a foul-mouthed exchange with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg after a clash at last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix and has currently racked up the most penalty points in F1. He is just four penalty points away from incurring a race ban, although two points will be automatically dropped following June’s Canadian Grand Prix.

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Magnussen received his first reprimand of the season in Barcelona for a “potentially dangerous” manoeuvre to block Charles Leclerc’s Sauber during opening practice. When questioned about the latest incident in the build up to this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, Steiner leapt to the defence of his driver once more. 

“It’s a fine line and just to clarify, he doesn’t try intentionally to piss off other drivers and upset them, but it happens,” Steiner explained.  

“Kevin should know better but sometimes you find yourself in a position where you end up in. I think nothing bad happened. There was the ‘could have’ incidents but no harm no foul. 

“As I said before he doesn’t try to be intentionally the aggressive guy or the bad guy. Even if people want to make it out like this. Other drivers maybe try to portray him as this. I don’t think he wants to be that.

“He’s a race car driver he does his best and sometimes people expect from you to be second last all the time," he added. "'But this guy fights oh no he shouldn’t' - why should he not?”

Steiner reckons critics have also taken advantage of his team’s relatively-new status on the F1 grid, with the US squad already facing questions over the legality of its 2018 car and technical collaboration with Ferrari following a strong start to the season. 

“We attract a little bit of drama I think but it will go as well. I think a lot of this is happening because we are still a young team and we are still learning some of the things as much as it sounds strange.

“I think I said a couple of years ago when they complained about blue flags and said these people shouldn’t be on the track because they don’t respect blue flags. This is the people now who get the blue flag for us. What goes around comes around in my opinion.”

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